Molly's Reviews

StormchaserThe Edge Chronicles: Stormchaser
Paul Stewart
Illustrator: Chris Riddell
David Fickling Books Random House

Engaging Read ... Highly Recommended ... 5 stars

Twig is now 16. It is midday in Undertown. The tale opens with Twig meeting a none too successful slaughterer hawking leather talismans. A playful prowlgrin cub, Twig's old friend the caterbird, and the breaking of the chain tethering the floating rock whereupon the seat of learning, Sanctaphrax, is perched add to the excitement of the moment. The caterbird knows the story behind Twig's father and how he became Cloud Wolf captain of the sky ship The Stormchaser. A wrecked sky ship caught on a treetop, Mim the leader of the gnokgoblins, Mother Horsefeather, and Twig's understanding of the woodtroll ways move the tale forward at a dramatic clip. When Cloud Wolf presents Twig a lesson into the flying of a sky ship they are interrupted by the approach of a leagueship. Near disaster follows when a jammed stern-weight must be freed. Twig volunteers for the job. And things only go from bad to worse. Loss of their load of Iron Wood, a crippled ship and his father's anger leave Twig feeling more than a little anguish.

A daring plan is hatched between Cloud Wolf and Mother Horsefeather, but Twig is not to be part of it.
Chicanery, quartermaster Spleethe's treachery, stowing away on The Stormchaser, the Great Storm, and storm chasing and a gigantic battle onboard the sky ship lead to more excitement than Twig had ever dreamed was possible.

From the ample imaginativeness of the team of Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell comes a thrilling yarn of conspiracy, conniving and complicity. The story presented on the pages of "Stormchaser" is entertaining, the often eerie and extraordinary characters are not only engaging but creditable as well. The fantastic world created by writer Stewart is elaborate, marvelously detailed and illustrated to perfection by artist Riddell. This is not a book for the youngest readers, or for the squeamish. Death produced in all manner of gruesome methods leaves the reader more than a little breathless.

Life becomes no easier for Twig in Book two of Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell's "Edge Chronicles. Stormchaser" brings Twig into the fiendish, malignant machinations of the floating city Sanctaphrax.
Younger readers should be aware brutality is offered in occasional violent bursts. The Screed Toe Taker in particular is a particularly gruesome character with little to redeem him to the reader. "Stormchaser" is a abundantly creative fantasy filled with absorbing characters sure to please the most demanding reader. The story line presents an enthralling tale set against a backdrop of fascinating, rather surreal settings. Characters are richly portrayed, illustrations are a genuine asset to the work.

From the opening lines as Twig ponders how to free his friend the caterbird from a cage where he has been imprisoned straight on to the last pages where we follow Twig on board a new sky ship the reader is carried on a roller coaster ride of adventure. We leave the caterbird, Twig and his crew setting sail to find Cloud Wolf who is now in grave danger and in need of help somewhere in the 'monstrous, misty wasteland beyond the Edge.'

A good addition to the home and school library. "Stormchaser" is sure to be a hit with middle to upper grade readers. Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend. Anxious to read book 3.

Beyond the DeepwoodsThe Edge Chronicles: Beyond the Deepwoods
Paul Stewart
Illustrator: Chris Riddell
David Fickling Books Random House

Entertaining Read ... Highly Recommended ... 5 stars

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.

Enjoyed the book, while I do not always keep the books sent to me for review: "Beyond the Deepwoods" is a keeper for my own library. Happy to recommend. Anxious to read more of the series.

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2005 by Molly Martin