Puppies and pumpkin stew! Peril and perfidy!
After many battles and adventures, Janner and his family come to the Hollows, where the travelers find peace, puppies, and pumpkin stew aplenty. Finally they can settle down to some sort of normal life.
Oh. Except that Kalmar, heir to the throne of Anierra, has turned into a Grey Fang. And as Throne Warden, Janner must protect his furry brother from suspicious townsfolk, a monster lurking in the shadows, and his own nagging anger.
Monsters, Mystery, and the Maker's Magic
The Monster in the Hollows seemed a bit slow for a while, especially after the non-stop action of North! Or Be Eaten. But actually, the tension never ceases. It's just different. Janner and his siblings must face new challenges, such as learning to deal with suspicious Hollowsfolk, finding their place in the interesting school, and perceiving truth beneath layers of deception.
Much of the story is like a quiet afternoon when the wind has died down, but the sky is darkening and heavy with clouds, and the air tingles. The small choices Janner makes in his heart - resentment or sacrifice, anger or joy, cowardice or bravery - these are battles as crucial as fighting the deadly Fangs of Dang.
And the plot does thicken and the action quicken, and the last chapters flow as Janner and his family face bloodthirsty enemies, love laid down, and failures the Maker turns to flourishes.
"Play, Leeli," he said, and her song lifted into the hall and swooped among the boughs, echoed off the ancient walls and fluttered among the crowd. It seeded the soil of many hearts, and only the stoniest rejected it and held to their murderous yearning. The rest, though, felt themselves believing, as Janner did, that the world was bigger and more terribly beautiful than they thought.
The Monster in the Hollows, by Andrew Peterson
The last few paragraphs rather reminded me of some of Tolkien's writing where he zooms out to give you a grand bit of epic language, and you feel the tale marching on to the final conflict.
My reviews of previous books in the Wingfeather Saga:
Book 1 - On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness
Book 2 - North! Or Be Eaten