by Daniel Ingram-Brown
Our Street Books
Back Cover: Fletcher and Scoop are Apprentice Adventurers from the ancient establishment of Blotting’s Academy on Fullstop Island, the place where all story characters are trained. The trouble is, they can’t remember how they got there.
It’s the first day of the term, but the two apprentices soon realise something is wrong. Things are going missing, including their own memories, and Scoop has the unsettling feeling that something is creeping in the shadows.
As the children search for answers, they become entangled with the life of the Storyteller, the island’s creator and king. They journey to his wedding banquet and find themselves uncovering a hidden past.
First Sentence: “Curses,” the old woman spat, clutching a half-finished letter in her bony fingers.
Long ago—approximately twelve years ago—a demon desecrated a couple’s love. When the man returned to his love, she was gone, having chosen darkness over their love. He has mourned for her since. Now, an opportunity has presented itself in the form of two Apprentice Adventurers from Blotting’s Academy, on Fullstop Island. Fullstop Island is—as all writers know—the place where characters train for their roles in a story. The two students, Fletcher and Scoop, are new students at the academy, but neither know how they got there, or anything about their past right up to they moment they awoke that first day.
Assigned partner in the Department of Quests, they find their first adventure gets them entwined with the Storyteller and with Grizelda, the witch from the abyss. Grizelda is determined to stop the two kids from completing their adventure with assistance from Knot, “a mountain of a man,” and Melusine, a hissing, slithering snake. Together, they want to stop a princess from returning, or at the very least, claim her for the abyss.
I love the world created for this story. Populating the island are many interesting areas such as the Creativity Craters, Puddles of Plot, the Hills of History, the Tall Tale Tree Forest, and the Fable Fish swimming in the bay. I would have liked to learn more about Blotting’s Academy and the training of storybook characters. Aside from the first day and a First Word Welcome where the students learn about the teacher/mentors, the stories they are to find and sometimes be a part of, and which department they’ve been assigned, that is it. From there the story is about Fletcher and Scoop’s adventure.
The adventure Fletcher and Scoop are on will help them regain their memories but it will also help the Storyteller have a successful wedding banquet. To attend the banquet, the kids need to wear a robe woven with the silver thread of the Storyteller, but the thread become gold. The entire journey is to find the Golden Feather that will turn the silver thread into a gold thread. The journey itself was confusing at times, though the mini-adventures were wonderful.
The writing reminded me of that in a great picture book—the words flow, smooth and easy to read. They are nearly lyrical. The writing is some of the best I have read since becoming a book reviewer five years ago. It was as much fun to read Rise of the Shadow Stealers as it was to read I Hate Picture Books. When the writing is that good, it almost matters none what the story is about, just let me keep enjoying the flow of the words.
Released January 16, 2013
© 2013 by Our Street Books
Text: Copyright © 2011 by Daniel Ingram-Brown
Illustration: Copyright © 2013 by Shaeron Caton-Rose
DONATED TO A LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY