Monster in the Hollows review
Monster in the Hollows, book three of Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga, opens with the end of the journey at sea which began at the end of the last book, North or Be Eaten! The royal Wingfeather family is returning home to the Isle of Anniera. But when that way is shut to them, they sail to the nearby Green Hollows. The people of the Hollows, though allies of the fallen Anniera, are suspicious of the refugees due to Kalmar’s transformation into a Fang. Indeed, the tension over just how much of Fang Kalmar has become drives much of the story as it unfolds.
This novel, perhaps even moreso than the first one in the series, takes a long time to set up. Perhaps not until half way in does the main plot really take hold. That’s not to say there are not some interesting moments. Chief among them is a glimpse at the monster in the hollows referred to in the title. But the early going consists of meetings and signing the children up for school, followed by the predictable school bullying and “woe is me” lamentations of Janner, the oldest of the Wingfeather children. I’ve never found school stories that interesting and, for half the novel that is essentially what this is. It’s Little House on the Prairie meets Monster High. The school scenes are counter-balanced with a whole lot of back story which, though well-done, slows the story down considerably.
A family affair
Thankfully the novel does not stay there. As suspicions that Kalmar is becoming more and more Fang-like reach their fever pitch, the novel delivers some truly touching displays of love and sacrifice. Janner and his mother, Queen Nia, shine particularly bright towards the end. And a side plot, featuring Sarah Cobbler, yields several cheer-worthy moments. There is also another wonderful surprise which I can’t reveal lest I spoil the plot, but it was probably my favorite thing about the entire story.
The end is so wonderful and good, that by the time the last page is turned the slow start is all but forgotten. Indeed, the second half of this novel is the best part so far of this entire series. What it does is gives the reader a wonderful picture of a family that deeply cares for its members. It also allows the children, for the first time, to work through their grief at the loss of their father.
The final chapters are also full of action, which makes the pages fly by, but it is the emotional bits which will stay with you and make you glad you picked up this story. If the whole book had been like that, this would have earned five stars for me, but even so, it’s a story I highly recommend and it will leave you with great expectations for the next book in the series, Warden of the Wolf King.