Unlike my other rereading escapades over the past year or so, Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga wasn’t technically a childhood classic of mine. The Chronicles of Narnia, Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quintet, The Mysterious Benedict Society–all of those books, I vividly remember reading as a kid. With Wingfeather Saga, it was a little different. I read the first book once or twice before my undergrad at Baylor, but never managed to get my hands on the full series. That changed during the summer of 2018.
I graduated Baylor with my bachelor’s degree in 2018, and, as I’ve written on in past posts, ended up in a rough season of life afterwards. I met Andrew Peterson at a writer’s conference in June 2018, bought the rest of the Wingfeather books, and was pointed back to hope as I devoured the Wingfeathers’ story.
I had a similar reading experience this go-around. While admittedly, the first two books were a bit difficult for me to get through (I did not find them as relatable or compelling as a returning, older, female reader), the last two books still fill me with a deep sense of hope in the promises of God and cause me to worship Him. The series reminds me of The Chronicles of Narnia in terms of narrative tone and themes, but the books grow into something with the scope and epicness of The Lord of the Rings (in a way that’s still accessible for kids). Each book gets better and better, too.
On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, the first book, is the one I’ve read the most and remember the most. For anyone who hasn’t read the series, I don’t want to discourage them from starting it. This book is necessary for setting up the story that follows. But as someone who’s read it a lot, its rereadability does go down. While there are good moments I enjoy, sweet character introductions, and intrigue, this book lacks an overarching plot that pulls it forward. The book focuses mainly on introductions as it jumps from problem to problem. Still, I think its first read is fun and interesting, and a good diving point into the story.
North! Or Be Eaten, the second book, still jumps from problem to problem, but unlike its predecessor, it does have a clear, driving plot that starts to inch toward the overarching plot of the whole series. With all the nonstop adventures, it’s hard to be bored with this book. I cried at the end, which starts Peterson’s trend of deeply impactful thematic endings in each book.
The Monster in the Hollows is where I really start to get hooked and engaged in the larger unfolding story. There’s a tightness to the plot and character development in this one that isn’t as present in the first two books, and the third installment of the saga features great twists that are hard to see coming, even with well-executed foreshadowing. Also, this book explores some pretty complex themes with clear Biblical language that moves me. (And yes, I cried at the end of this one too.) This might be my favorite book in the series, as I think it hits all the marks of an exceptional book super well.
The Warden and the Wolf King certainly provides the most epic scope of the books, fitting for the finale. It’s also fun to have a story featuring the perspectives and character arcs of all the Wingfeather kids, unlike in the previous books, which focus primarily on Janner. With a lot of threads to wrap up, the story’s climax and resolution reminds me of the end of The Lord of the Rings, which is drawn out, but necessarily so. That being said, the ending isn’t perfectly achieved–there’s a small plot element that strikes me as too ambiguously resolved. In a book that takes its time to wrap everything up, the “end” of Artham Wingfeather’s story seemed like a strange oversight to me. Still, the themes at the end are incredible and the very last page aligns incredibly well with the Gospel. I cried, multiple times, during the last hundred pages, and the hope resounding at the end of the tale has stuck with me since finishing the book.
While this series may not be my absolute favorite, go-to read as an adult, there’s still a lot I love about Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga, and it will always have a special place in my heart as a story that met me during a season of hopelessness. I highly recommend it to those who haven’t read it yet. It is a series I look forward to reading to my kids someday.
Have you read the Wingfeather Saga? What are your thoughts on the series?