01/05/2009. Contributed by Vikki Green
pub: Doubleday/Random House. 368 page illustrated small hardback. Price: £12.99 (UK), $32.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-385-61345-3.
check out websites: www.kidsatrandomhouse.com and www.edgechronicles.co.uk
'The Twig Trilogy: The Edge Chronicles' by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell follows the adventures of a character called Twig. It collects the volumes 'Beyond The Deepwoods', 'Stormchaser' and 'Midnight Over Sanctaphrax' and deal with Twig's transformation from adolescence to assured Sky Pirate Captain.
The first book. 'Beyond The Deepwoods', deals with Twig leaving his home among the Woodtrolls to stay with a cousin. He is warned not to stray from the path, but does and, through a series of encounters with the multitude of creatures and plants inhabiting the Deepwoods, he comes to find his destiny. The story continues in 'Stormchaser'. Through a series of unlucky
circumstances he finds himself alone once more with a difficult mission to save the floating city of Sanctaphrax. The third book, 'Midnight Over Sanctaphrax', ramps the misfortunes up further and leads Twig on another hair-raising quest to save the Edge itself.
It has a strong readership among 12-15 years-olds. Some of the quotes on the back flyleaf are interesting. "'I hated reading...now I'm a reading machine!' Quinn, 15." This is down to the combination of some very rich and detailed world-building, a lovely sense of humour, along with danger lurking around every corner and non-stop adventure. The combination of solid writing from Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell's beautiful illustrations and map on the endpapers are compelling. The books are created in collaboration between the writer and artist.
The Edge is a floating world nourished by the Edgewater River which rises far away in the Deepwoods. The Edge is literally the edge of the world and very few people have voyaged in the open sky beyond it. The Deepwoods are full of dangerous plants and animals which Twig has to avoid throughout his journey to the Edge itself. The Twilight Woods at the edge of the Mire are quite terrifying in concept. The floating City of Sanctaphrax and the Undertown are a solid piece of world-building.
Even the weather from beyond the Edge is dangerous as are the mindstorms as well as rain storms. In fact, the Edge itself is a character in these books. The creatures inhabiting the Deepwoods and beyond are equally bizarre and wonderful, the hoverworm, Cloddertrogs to the Banderbear. Every page is a new discovery.
The stories themselves didn't stop for a moment. Twig's progress from lost child through to assured captain is utterly believable every step of the way. Each chapter is full of incident and detail. The squishy bits are squishy in the 'Horrible Histories' tradition and there is a tremendous sense of rollicking adventure permeating the whole book. The illustrations enhance the action and are full of character and life. Each book in the trilogy is a little darker in tone than the one before and each conclusion is a little bittersweet.
At first, this book felt like a more gruesome version of 'The Perils Of Penelope Pitstop' but as I was drawn deeper into the stories it became totally absorbing. I loved it and was so desperate to find out what happened next I was glued to it in my free time for all of three days.
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