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Andrew Peterson has written an engaging fantasy adventure, the first of a series. Dark Sea is an imaginative story that gets much better as it goes along.

Peterson builds the tale around three children living with their mother and grandfather in a small, backwater village. The malevolent presence of the Fang overlords provides the antagonists for the plot. Mysterious comments and hints of unknown keep the reader curious for more.

Having read a lot of fantasy (one of my deep dark secrets), I had some expectations beginning the book. Some of them were met; some were not.

I think I remember hearing that Peterson wrote this with his young sons in mind, and it is classified as young adult fiction. Whatever precipitated the writing, Dark Sea starts out with several really junior highis elements.¬†¬†Many of the names are just slapstick: Glipwood Forest, AnkleJelly Manor, Fangs of Dang, Peet the Sock Man (as a heroic warrior of all things), snotwax candles (sigh). And then the incessant footnotes to explain background details… These are two really irritating features that almost made me put the book down.

But I am glad I finished the book. I was pleasantly surprised to find the pace and suspense picking up as the story went along. Peterson includes numerous plot twists and suspenseful chapter endings (a few too many for an adult story). Dark Sea ends with the clear intention of another book to follow, and North…or Be Eaten continues the unfolding adventure.

Dark Sea is a good read and does not include any objectionable elements. It does highlight and promote virtues and honorable conduct. The whole concept of the Throne Warden is worth the read with your junior high son in order to discuss it with him.

I rate this as a Library Read until you Purchase it for your 6th grader.

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