Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Edge Chronicles: Stormchaser

The Edge Chronicles: Stormchaser

Paul Stewart
Illustrator:   Chris Riddell 
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Random House, 2008   ISBN: 978-0440420880

Twig has finally found a place that feels like home. Surprisingly, considering the fact that Twig grew up in the Deepwoods in the gloom under the trees, Twig's new home is in the skies over the Edge, sailing above the ground in his father's ship.

Twig has changed quite a bit since we saw him last. Several years have passed and he is much more confident and hopeful. One day Twig visits Undertown, the settlement that lies right on the rim of the Edge. As he wanders through the filthy streets, Twig finds a shop, and inside he meets an old friend, the Caterbird. The Caterbird tells him that the floating town which hovers above Undertown, Sanctaphrax, is in grave danger. It would seem that it is getting lighter and lighter and soon the chains and bolts that tether it to the ground will give way.

Clearly something has to be done, and yet no one seems to know what to do. There is a complicated story about Santaphrax  that is hard to unravel, but eventually Twig gets to the truth.. It would appear that a substance called stormphrax is what makes Sanctaphrax heavy enough to stay tethered, and a quantity of this material is stored on the floating town. Not that long ago one of the academics, who in a member of the learned society that lives on Sanctaphrax, a greedy creature called Vilnix, discovered that when stormphrax is converted into a dust, it acquires purifying properties. The powder, phraxdust, soon became highly valued by the people of Undertown because it could be used to purify the filthy and polluted waters of the Edgewater River.

Vilnix is now very powerful and it doesn't take Twig long to realize that he has been taking stormphrax out of the treasury of Sanctaphrax and selling so that it can be be made into phraxdust. This is the reason why Sanctaphrax is getting lighter and lighter. There is not enough stormphrax to weigh it down.

Soon Twig finds himself in the middle of an extraordinary adventure as he travels on his father's ship, the Stromchaser, to search for stormphrax. Stormphrax is created when a certain kind of storm, a Great Storm, breaks over the Edge. Lightning hits the ground and solidifies into stormphrax. The problem is that one has to be right in the middle of the storm to see where the lightning strikes on the ground below. Needless to say being on a floating wooden ship in the middle of a storm is highly dangerous.

Added to this mix of danger and adventure there are the squabbles that are taking place between the evil Vilnix, the other academics who live on Sanctaphrax, and some of the political and commercial leaders in the community. Each side wants the stormphrax for themselves, and in the middle of the conflict there is Twig, his father and their friends, pawns in a terrible game which could end up being fatal for Twig and those he cares for.

Full of bizarre creatures, cruelty, violence, courage and compassion,  Stormchaser is, if possible, even more gripping than its preceding book The Deepwoods. Like The Deepwoods, this book may not appeal to sensitive readers, and yet the dark evil and avarice in some of the characters is balanced by the generosity and unselfishness found in the hearts of Twig and his kind. As we read it becomes clear that Twig attracts others who are in trouble to him. He inspires honesty and loyalty in those who choose to be his friends and companions. Twig is truly beginning to come into his own and we continue to like and respect him as he grows into a force to be reckoned with. We can only hope that Twig and his father will indeed be able to save Sanctaphrax and Undertown from those who are care only for themselves and not for the good of all