The Edge Chronicles: Beyond the Deepwoods by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
Far away, is the edge where the Edgewater River pours incessantly into the abyss below. The headwater for the river is found far away in the dark regions of the Deepwoods. And that is where our tale begins in the Woodtroll village where a mother must ready her youngest child for striking out on his own in the world. Tuntum and Spleda Snatchwood have never told Twig he is not their own child. Now Twig is grown, he will be thirteen on his next birthday. Twig leaves the only home he has known with his mother’s words to stay on the path ringing in his ears. Woodtrolls do not leave the path.
Nevertheless Twig already has a history for wandering away from the path. It does not take Twig long before he realizes he has done it again, the nighttime forest is beautiful. It is also filled with scary sounds and scary things. Twig meets Gyle Goblins, a gabtroll, a prowlgring, Spindlebug and Milchgrubs, blood thirsty wig wigs, and a rotsucker. A halitoad, hoverworm and a boy named Gristle are all there in the woods. Slaughterers, hammelhorn pens, and sleeping in a hammock high in the tree provide a big of respite. Twig is there for the hatching of a caterbird, is saved from a skullpelt, is nearly devoured by a flesh eating bloodoak and makes friends with a banderbear. Sky pirates, termagant trogs, and a gloamglozer round out the assembly of creatures Twig encounters on his journey from the Snatchwood home to cousin Snetterbark’s house. Twig’s adventures have only just begun. Book 2 continues his adventure.
The Edge Chronicles: Beyond the Deepwoods evoke happy memories spent reading and re-reading Frank Baum’s Oz books. The Edge Chronicles present an unlikely hero in the form of Twig a supposed woodtroll. He sets out on a quest filled with tumult, excitement, and travail. The line drawings gracing the pages of the work are ideal as they add a special depth to the work. Opening the covers of Beyond the Deepwoods brings the reader straight into to the wonder world of The Edge; a detailed map of the locale is presented even before the tale is begun. Beyond the Deepwoods is presented in the style of old time children’s books, obviously author Stewart and illustrator Riddell work very closely together to produce a work sure to charm young people in the target audience and adults alike. The narrative draws reader right into the tale from the introduction as the author sets down some of the places and inhabitants we can expect to face in the story itself. The array of life moves Twig and the reader from zany hazard to crony to horrifying and horrible at a pace allowing little time for Twig or the reader to catch a breath.
Sure to please the target audience of middle grade readers to high school age youngsters The Edge Chronicles will be reached for often for pleasure reading. Beyond the Deepwoods is an excellent choice for ‘reading time’ as teacher reads aloud following the noontime recess. Youngsters will relish the tale, quiet down for their afternoon’s work activities and open the book at home later that evening to read more of Twig and his exciting adventures.
I enjoyed this book. While I do not always keep the books sent to me for review, Beyond the Deepwoods is a keeper for my own library. I’m anxious to read more of the series.