The best way I can describe this book is Alice in Wonderland crossed with one of those video games where there are several gruesome ways to die on every level.
Set in a place called The Edge, this story follows the journey of 13-year-old Twig. Adopted by woodtrolls as a baby, he’s a misfit. After straying from the path, he encounters one hazard after another in the dangerous Deepwoods. As the first published novel in the Edge Chronicles series, it sets the scene, introducing us to the creatures, geography and rules of this fantasy world. Having read the book several times before, predating even my book record, I find it difficult to stand back far enough to see the flaws. Compared to the subsequent books, there isn’t so much of a plot. The focus is on Twig’s navigation of the dangers, with a background story of wanting to find his identity. It’s a quick, action-packed read, with memorable characters and an intriguing setting.
Unusually for a novel at the time, aimed at young teens, this one is illustrated generously, with Chris Riddell’s elegant line drawings bringing the scenes to life. The illustrations are of equal importance to the text, evidencing a brilliant collaboration of writer and artist.
First published in 1998.