“I like mysteries because they’re scary, but you always know they’ll turn out right.”
So said our eldest child, not realizing that her words ushered in a new era of reading for our family. This era—in which we can read about the defeat of Voldemort, Smaug and Gnag the Nameless without sending little ones to bed with the kindling for nightmares—is one that I have looked forward to for a very long time. I have hoarded stories for it in the hope that, when this new era dawned, we’d be prepared, and though Lydia made her observation casually over breakfast, I spent the better part of the next two weeks pulling this book and that one off the shelf, wondering if she might be ready (at last!) for The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic. Or The Hobbit. Perhaps The Wingfeather Saga? Maybe?
But at the same time, I was reading The Wilderking Trilogy myself and enjoying it immensely, so I started there: I nonchalantly handed her the first volume and asked her to tell me what she thought.
She appeared at my elbow an hour later and wondered if I had, perhaps, finished the second book yet.
Jonathan Rogers’ books are set in the fictional realm of Corenwald and follow the story of young Aidan Errolson, who confronts gators, meets feechiefolk, and receives a surprising message from Bayard the Truthsayer. Aidan’s story is a retelling of the story of King David, hitting the major plot points but interpreting each one with a swampy, fantastical touch.
I loved the books from start to finish, with just one reservation: in the whole series, there are less than a half dozen female characters, and none of them stick in the story for more than a few pages—even the crowd scenes are notably devoid of ladies. I didn’t know what to make of this, especially given the fact that there are a few fascinating women to choose from in the biblical account of David’s life (see: Michal and Abigail). The good news, though, is that my daughter was so caught up in the story that she didn’t even notice the absence of girls—and for a girl who loves fancy things and books with ringletted heroines, that’s saying something.
The Wilderking Trilogy, then, is a great series for kids who, like Lydia, are just dipping their toes into the exciting sea of adventure and fantasy stories, and who may have, like Lydia, turned eight this past week (and celebrated with freshly pierced ears and a trip to The Trampoline Zone—though not in that order). They’re action-packed but not too intense, and some of the characters are profoundly memorable (see: Errol and Dobro). And they are hilarious—perfect fodder for a summer read-aloud.
We read this series aloud as a family, and do you know who else noticed the absence of girls? No one. But who loved the books, got all the jokes, and can’t wait to read them again? Everyone! In fact, I loved these books even more after reading them aloud (those Feechie accents are fun). So, I may have been needlessly picky in my review and that needed clearing up.
The Wilderking Trilogy
Jonathan Rogers (2014)