Oh my heart...I didn't think after reading it's preceding volume (North! Or Be Eaten) I could get as stressed, anxious, and frustrated as before. All of this in a good way, of course. Who likes a book with no tension? Well, let me tell you, this one's loaded with it.
The Wingfeathers take refuge on Nia's homeland, the Green Hollows, and find safety from monsters, traitors, fangs, and all the evils Gnang the Nameless sent after them...Or so they thought.
When they step foot on shore and the Hollows folk see a grey fang among them, the people forget they are in the presence of the Queen and Jewels and Anniera.
After much deliberation and outrage, things calm down enough to let Kalmar pass through the town unscathed. After the children are enrolled in school, Janner and Kalmar endure a whole lot of bullying, and Janner often wishes he doesn't have to be a throne warden so he could just be a normal boy. What takes him a while to realize is that Kalmar has the hardest time of it. In addition to constant condemnation, he also bares the weight of his own guilt.
As time goes one, the Wingfeather children are slowly left alone and start to be seen as normal kids. But things start taking a turn when a cloven, a dangerous monster from the deeps of the forest, appears. The patrol injure it and it disappears into the forest.
When farmers start noticing their livestock is growing smaller in number, suspicions rise. A discovery is made and accusations come flying at Kalmar and the Wingfeathers. After things escalate, everything explodes with treachery, irrational fear, violence, fangs, and all sorts of evil that the Hollows folk always thought they were so good at preventing. What they don't realize was that they let their own fear of Gnang the Nameless dictate their conscience. It takes great loss for them to come to their senses.
Through the loss however, the Wingfeathers make one giant discovery that changes the course of the conflict.
I was so worried, especially starting at the last half. Some parts I cheered, other parts I growled, and still others I cried. None of this was because I didn't like it or because it was poorly written. On the contrary, it was so well done that I felt like I was there during the anger, sadness, and triumph. Mr. Peterson did an amazing job building his characters and taking me by surprise with plot twists and unexpected turns of events. I don't get attached to characters very quickly, but this series left me staring at the books, unsure what to do with my life now that I no longer have those fictional people with me.
PROS: Everything. Characters, writing, world building, emotion, action, adventure, plot building, the list goes on.
CONS: There is some violence, and it can be a bit dark in some moments and scary for younger kids.
I look forward to reading the next (and last) book in the series!