We spend our whole lives looking for something other than what we have. Human hearts are restless, so we desire better relationships and more satisfying jobs and awe-inspiring travels. This restlessness can also, if we’re lucky, drive us to God. Andrew Peterson’s novel On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, the first in the Wingfeather Saga series, ignited this homesickness in me.
It opens with twelve-year-old Janner Igiby and his younger siblings anticipating the Dragon Day Festival—the one day in the year where their lives expand beyond their small, grimy town. Visitors pour into Glipwood for food, games, and—most importantly—to hear the sea dragons sing as they swim by the cliffs. Janner isn’t content with an ordinary life of lessons and chores. His heart aches for a land he has never known, the fallen Anniera. He longs for wonder and adventure. Like all of us, he is restless for something he can’t quite put into words. But Janner gets more than he bargained for when the Igibys are targeted by the fearsome Fangs of Dang and he must fight for their survival, while trying to uncover the secrets that his mother and grandfather have been keeping from him.
I didn’t read this book in one sitting. I had to squeeze it in between work and writing and cleaning and emails. But this was actually a fitting way to read it—the enchanting story kept my hope alive through mundane days, as fiction often does so powerfully. Even though it’s aimed at a middle-grade audience, I found the Wingfeather Saga enchanting (and many other adults have as well). The longings it depicts are universal. As Janner stares at a picture of his late father sailing the wild seas, and feels that tug to be somewhere else other than Glipwood, I felt it with him. The whispers of the glory of Anniera remind me of the paradise we lost in the Fall and gained again in Jesus. Like Janner and his siblings waiting on the edge of the cliffs for the dragons, I wait with expectation for my coming Saviour who will finally bring lasting joy.
The author, Andrew Peterson, writes with a songwriter’s beauty and clarity. While it’s not an explicitly Christian book, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness lifted me from my ordinary life into something bigger. It reminded me that I was made for a better and brighter world. Janner’s quest for wonder and joy sparked my own, acting like the dragons’ song to make me feel “more alive than usual.” I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to read a novel that is more than just escapism, that will send you back to your normal life with a greater longing for eternity.
You can buy the first book in the Wingfeather Saga from The Wandering Bookseller (AU/NZ).