Merry Wanderer of the Night  + [YA]

Review: Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier

So, I'm going to break one of my personal review rules/no-nos/pet peeves here for Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier and I'm going to compare it to another book. (Gasp, I know... Also, insert appropriate apology here). The story itself is pretty unique and charming, but I was reminded from the very beginning of A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. The stories are not anything alike, but the writing felt very similar to me. It's told in that same third party narrative where the narrator will interject at times with 'clarifications' and comments. And it also had that same impossibility of character (like the baby biting through steel in ASoUE).

And I don't like it.

I did not enjoy the SoUE. I read most of the books and finally gave up because the story just wasn't enough to get me over my dislike of the narration and other... things. But I will say that although the narration was, at times, quite jarring to me, overall, I actually really enjoyed this book.

Once I got past the beginning, where the infant is left to fend for itself by the town elders and survives, I found myself really drawn into the happenings of the story. But it was a struggle and initially, I was really disappointed in the story, because I need my fantasy to be believable and realistic, which means I need to believe in my characters. Once Peter has gotten past his unbelievable childhood, the story really picks up for me. I found that I really liked Peter and I wanted so badly for him to succeed. There was so much at stake for him, and he had so little happiness in his young life that I so wanted things to work well for him.

The story was quite charming, and again, once past the beginning, this unknown/unseen narrator really does keep his comments and opinions to a minimum, allowing me to get farther into the story. I loved watching Peter learn about his surroundings, learn about himself and realize that he can teach and help others. He worries that his past as a thief makes him unworthy and he often sometimes confidence in himself, which is not surprising considering he's spent the last several years being told he's practically worthless. But Peter is strong and he is made of greater things than he knows, and there is much he needs to do in order to complete the quest given him by the mysterious professor.

His traveling companion, Sir Tode was also a rather enjoyable character. The victim of a Hag's curse (one that I think you definitely need to discover on your own) Sir Tode is an unlikely companion, but is really willing to be there for Peter, to be his eyes and his friend.

I'm so glad that I stuck with this book, that I didn't allow myself to get too discouraged when I started the book. It's a beautifully charming story, even with the narration being what it is. Peter is strong and brave, and although not perfect (for reasons I won't specify to avoid spoilers) Peter's struggles with being blind are raw and real. Peter understands that his skills as a thief are only what they are because of his blindness. He can hear and smell better, and his fingers are far more sensitive. He recognizes this. He knows these things. But he still longs for the ability to see. But he also doesn't dwell on it. It's one of those things, it is what it is, and he makes the best of what he has. I love little Peter.

The fantastic eyes were also such an enjoyable part of the story. I wasn't sure going into it, but after reading, I can (fairly confidently) say that this is a stand alone story. I had originally thought that perhaps it would be a trilogy, with one book dedicated, primarily, to one set of eyes, but I am happy to say that this story stands alone. All three eyes are used (and umm, pretty brilliant, if I may say so!) and the story resolves itself completely, in that way of all middle grade (ok, most MG).

I think this is a charming and delightful book, and I think it's one that will be enjoyed by many, many people. If you are a fan of Lemony Snicket's writing style, I think you will just love this one. And if you are not, give it a try anyway. It just might surprise you.

Oh! Also — I loved the small illustrations that started each chapter. They were fabulous additions to the story and they made me all happy inside.:)

*Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.