“Without doubt, you will find your way home.” // Review of “The Fearless Travelers’ Guide to Wicked Places” by Peter Begler

Title: The Fearless Travelers’ Guide to Wicked Places
Author: Peter Begler
Genre:
Middle-grade/fantasy
Date Read: 16/02/2017 – 26/02/2017
Rating: ★★★

Review: 

This book had a very strong start, but unfortunately I found myself getting bored in the last third. I’m not entirely sure that it would hold the attention of a reader of the target age-group. Then again, maybe the hopping between so many different fantasy elements would appeal to that younger reader.

When their mother is kidnapped by a witch and turned into a bird, Nell Perkins and her brothers must travel to the Dreamlands in order to to not only rescue their mother, but also to prevent an everlasting war from breaking out between Dreams and Nightmares.

This book started off really strong. There were some interesting ideas going on, between Nell’s ability to see people’s “inner animals”, to the young women in the town going missing. At this point, the characters seemed quite vibrant and interesting.

It was once they arrived in the Dreamlands that things started to feel a bit more haphazard. There didn’t really seem to be much of an arc to the story; a lot of it seemed to be the characters getting themselves out of one situation, then making their way into another one completely separate. To Peter Begler’s credit, he did manage to fairly accurately create a dreamscape where nothing truly makes sense and anything can happen, but there were so many ideas crammed into this one book that it started to feel like a bit of a mess after a while.

The main characters were well-written, though they did all come across as a bit older than they were supposed to be. Their guides, Badger and Pinch, were interesting, though we never really got much of a sense of them. Pinch was a former princess who had given up her throne, but that was all we knew of her backstory. Badger had made mistakes in his past which leant him Nightmarish tendencies, but this was never gone into.

For the most part, there was nothing wrong with the writing style, apart from the fact that the dialogue tags often didn’t seem to match what the characters were saying. One example that comes to mind is “‘Glad you’re all right, kid,’  Badger snarled.” Why would he snarl that? It seemed very odd, and there were many similar cases. It’s a tiny thing, but it kept cropping up and pulled me out of the story.

This has the makings of a really good fantasy novel, and it’s possible the target audience will enjoy it more than I did. It didn’t quite do it for me, though.


(Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)

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