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The Fathomless Fire by T. Wharton

Wharton, Thomas. The Fathomless Fire. Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2012. Print.

In the first book of The Perilous Realm fantasy trilogy for young adults, The Shadow of Malabron (2010), Will Lightfoot travels to the city of Fable in the land of Story and he is told that it “is not just a world with stories in it,… this world is story” (60).  In this place, Will learns about his own special talents and discovers that he must play his part in the story that is unfolding around him if there is to be any chance of averting catastrophe.  Together with his friend Rowen, her loremaster grandfather, Nicholas Pendrake, and a wolf named Shade, Will undertakes a perilous journey in the hopes that he can help his new friends and find his own way home.

The second book of the trilogy, The Fathomless Fire (2012), picks up the adventures of Will, Rowen, and Shade where The Shadow of Malabron left off.  Will returns to the land of Story only to discover that his past exploits have become the stuff of legend, but that the land of Story is imperilled because one story is growing so powerful that it is changing and warping everything, even the past, and there is now a very real risk that this dark story will become the only story “everywhere and for ever.  No one will remember that there was ever anything else before, or imagine that things might be different” (325).

This novel is recommended for young adults (16+).  This is an intriguing book for those who are interested in the idea that we are each, as individuals, the product of the stories (or histories) that we tell ourselves and others, and that we have the power to change the narrative.  Thomas Wharton has imagined a complex world of adventure, but one in which meanings can be both unfathomable and unstable.  Like many of the books in this category, “The Perilous Realm” series can be understood by young adult readers but will offer greater depth to moremature and knowledgeable readers.

Follow the links below to view my interview with Thomas Wharton videotaped for The Deakin Review of Children’s Literature in December 2012. In this interview, the author discusses two of his earlier novels – Icefields (1995) and The Logogryph (2004) – before turning to the first two books in his The Perilous Realm trilogy: The Shadow of Malabron (2010) and The Fathomless Fire (2012).

¤ Access the interview here:

Recommended: 3 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Linda Quirk

Linda taught courses in Multicultural Canadian Literature, Women's Writing, and Children's Literature at Queen's University (Kingston) and at Seneca College (Toronto) before moving to Edmonton to become the Assistant Special Collections Librarian at the Bruce Peel Special Collections Library at the University of Alberta.  Her favourite children's book to teach is Hana's Suitcase, not only because Hana's story is so compelling, but because the format of this non-fiction book teaches students of all ages about historical investigation and reveals that it is possible to recover the stories of those who have been forgotten by history.

For another perspective on this novel, please see the review by Lissa Davies in The Deakin Review of Children’s Literature, Vol. 2, No. 3 (2012).