CSFF Blog Tour—Landon Snow and the Island of Arcanum, the Review

For the past two days, I’ve been talking about, or maybe around, Landon Snow and the Island of Arcanum by R. K. Mortenson (Barbour Publishing). All that was to whet your appetite because today is review day!

If you’ve visited the other blogs on the tour, you already know a fair amount about the story. Landon, with both sisters this time, returns to the Button Up Library, anticipating another adventure. He is not disappointed, but the journey is far different from what he experienced in the past. Much is at stake and, in the end, the danger is greater.

Strengths. Mortenson has a great imagination and utilizes it wonderfully in this children’s fantasy, but in my opinion, the greatest strength of the series is his writing—his use of words and lyrical language coupled with his sense of humor. In other words, these books are fun! They sound fun as you read them aloud. He utilizes a play on meaning, adds abundant sound imagery (doesn’t that feel like a contradiction—sound imagery? Feels like it should be sound sounery or something instead. [See? that’s the kind of thing reading Mortenson conjures up]), and creates unique voices for each character.

This latter ability, in particular, makes Mortenson’s characters come alive on the page, whether it is Landon or his count-happy sister Holly, the slightly daft Tardy Hardy, or the somewhat stiff former chess piece, Melech.

Overall, the story is just what a fantasy should be—a journey culminating in a confrontation with forces of evil in order to accomplish great good.

Within that fantasy framework, Mortenson gently includes spiritual truth, best seen in Landon’s growing faith. While the first book of the series focused on God’s sovereignty, Landon Snow and the Island of Arcanum brings out God’s preparation for and protection in the battle against evil.

Weakness. There are few. From a picky writer’s standpoint, I’d like to see Landon more proactive early in the story. Things happen to him and he seems at times to be more of an observer than a mover. True heroism comes from acting, I think, and I’d like to see Landon seize the opportunity, especially since he knows the likelihood of adventure awaits when he goes through the doors of the Button Up Library.

To accomplish this change in Landon, I think he needs to have something he wants from the beginning of the story—to prove himself to his sisters, to return to Wonderwood to see Ditty or his other friends. He has that in small doses, but it doesn’t seem to drive him to action.

Told you these were picky.

Mortenson, in my opinion, teeters on the edge of breaking out, becoming a household name. He is a skilled wordsmith, and his plots are growing in strength. He has wonderful, engaging, realistic characters, and solid themes that arise from within the events of the story. I highly recommend Landon Snow and the Island of Arcanum for children eight years old and up and for the parents who read to them.

You will be doing the book-lover in your family a great favor to include the three Landon Snow books now available as part of his or her Christmas.

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If you haven’t already taken a whirl around the blogsphere to see what others think of Landon Snow, I hope you carve out some time this week. Other participants in CSFF are the following:

Published in: on November 15, 2006 at 11:39 am  Comments (7)  

7 Comments

  1. Well I’d already decided I would buy the books for my eight-year-old. But reading your review made me interested to read them for myself as well. I’m always looking to learn from other writers and it sounds like Mortensen has a gift to be coveted.

    Blessings!
    Beth.

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  2. “To accomplish this change in Landon, I think he needs to have something he wants from the beginning of the story—to prove himself to his sisters, to return to Wonderwood to see Ditty or his other friends. He has that in small doses, but it doesn’t seem to drive him to action.”

    *groan* The old GMC thing–goals/motivation/conflict–again … it’s everywhere ….

    :::crawls back into hole:::

    😉

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  3. Randy does have a great way with words, Beth. That’s something I don’t know how to learn. What makes it possible for a person to bring their sense of humor into their writing? I so rarely do. Writing is serious to me and I am far too serious in my stories, I think. Where’s the fun? I mean, even adults like fun.

    And, yes, Shannon—the old goals/motive/conflict issue as the engine to power the plot. It just doesn’t go away, does it! 🙂

    Becky

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  4. Becky,
    I just wanted to point out how successful this month’s tour was. Randy has slowly climbed up to a tie with some guy named Stephen King for #1 on Technorati over the week. The CSSFBT is picking up steam and clout – as far as influencing Technorati at least. Ol’ Landon will get a double dose of this when the CFBA tackles him.

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  5. Jason, thank you for giving that report. What great news! I’d heard he was up to #2, so I knew he was on the move.

    I hope this translates into sales, too.

    Becky

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  6. […] Kendrick and the Castle of Bel Lione R. K. Mortenson – the Landon Snow series (Landon Snow and the Island of Arcanum, … the Volucer’s Dragon) Jonathan Rogers – The Wilderking Trilogy (The Bark of the […]

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  7. […] novels such as R. K. Mortenson’s Landon Snow series (see my reviews of two of the five books here and […]

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