Skip to main content

Review of The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic

This was the very first book written by Jennifer Trafton, an illustrator and elementary school writing teacher. She was unmarried at the time, but has since married A.S. Peterson, as in, the military man who wrote the miracle that is Fiddler’s Green. I came into The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic with no expectations whatsoever. I didn’t even know what it was about. The only reason I got it was because I had become such a huge fan of Jennifer Trafton’s husband. However, the title is one of the best I’ve encountered lately. It has a rhythm if you say it to yourself. And like only the best titles, it immediately had me asking questions. What is Mount Majestic and how does it rise and how does it fall?


The answer to that question is so clever, so utterly and fantastically unexpected, I’m not even going to mention it here. You’ll have to discover it for yourself. The story centers around a 10-year-old named Persimonny who finds herself lost in the woods and ends up overhearing a plot threatening the entire island. (The story takes place on the Island of the Center of Everything. It is unknown if the island is actually at the center of everything, but its residents do not want to look into it for fear of disproving their claim.)  Anyway, this plot involves the mountain—again, the surprise I can’t spoil. But it’s so outrageous, no one will believe Persimonny when she tries to warn them, so it’s up to her and her eccentric friends to stop the plot and save the island themselves.

The enormous cast of characters (and their names) are completely absurd, but they manage not to become caricatures. They have real heart and soul and, like all convincing characters, they manage to surprise us. Persimonny is an impulsive and determined little hero. But this is a rare, rare case where I enjoyed the plot as much as, if not more than, the characters. Jennifer Trafton has said that she approaches writing just as she approached playing as a child—not to make any sort of statement, not to crank out wisdom or wit, but to have fun. That shines through here so brilliantly. It’s so ridiculous and fun. I thoroughly enjoyed being here on the Island of the Center of Everything (which may or may not be at the center of everything) amidst the walking trees and the rumplebumbs and the leafeaters and the Poison-Tongued Jumping Tortoises. There was not one moment where I guessed what was going to happen next, and while I didn’t love the ending, the epilogue made up for it. (This book is an example of a prologue and an epilogue done marvelously right.) And then there is the plot twist about the mountain, the part of this book so creative I could have never anticipated it in my entire life.

In addition to crafting this weird and colorful world, Jennifer Trafton has complete command over the zanier side of the English language. In an interview, she described writing as trying to squeeze a mountain through the holes of a strainer, or something like that. But there is not a single instance in this book where it was apparent she was trying too hard. She sifts and swirls and bends and invents words at her will and rearranges them in ways I have never seen before. Every sentence snaps and crackles and the dialogue is as quick and fresh as this story’s main character.


So that is the insane and romping tale of Mount Majestic. If you come to this book as an adult, you will not like it. But if you approach it like the author herself, like a child with her toys, you will find yourself immersed in a sun-splashed island and a high-speed adventure. The only way to enter such a world is to shed all existence of seriousness. Or, as Jennifer Trafton says herself in her wonderful prologue: “To take off your cloak of doubt, empty your pockets of all suspicions and jests, sit before the roaring fire of my tale, and believe.” 

*I have funny plans for the near future of this blog. Stay tuned.* 

Comments

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Disney's A Wrinkle in Time

Last night my brother and I watched A Wrinkle in Time and I was really excited about it for some reason. Did it hold up to the source material? Well, I read the book ages ago, didn't really like it, and only remember a few key plot points—the missing dad, three weird ladies, the creepy identical houses, and Charles Wallace getting possessed, and ending up with purple circles for eyes...and all of that happened in the movie. Except the purple circles. So as far as I know, it was a faithful adaptation, but I'm not the one to ask. This review is about the movie itself, not as an adaptation.

In the first couple of minutes, we're introduced to an insecure, brooding Meg played by Storm Reid, her adopted brother Charles Wallace (I don't remember if he was adopted in the book or not), and Meg's new friend Calvin, who doesn't do much of anything except follow Meg around. Then we meet the three ladies, one at a time. Oprah is like twenty feet tall for some reason, and …

Review of The Princess and the Goblin

When I started out reading a beat-up library copy of 1872's The Princess and the Goblin, I had no idea it would end up being exactly the book I needed at the moment. In fact, for the first two chapters, it struck a serious nerve. There was no goblin in sight, and the princess was giving me a migraine. Sure, maybe Irene kicks off the adventure by exploring, but as soon as she gets lost or runs into trouble she flings herself to the ground crying until she is rescued. Do you have any idea how tiring this gets? I don't care that she's only eight. I happen to know a very plucky eight-year-old. Just seriously....STOP THE CRYING.

The entire book got on my nerves for several chapters, come to think of it. Why? This takes place in a village where no one can go out at night. Also, there's a creepily mysterious lady spinning yarn in a tower. This is all good stuff. Good stuff indeed. So why was I driven nuts?

Well, enter Curdie, bringing utter relief simply by being a character…

Review of Welcome to Ludicrous

Review of Welcome to Ludicrous by Virginia Henderson 

On page 37, the fussy and cynical Priscilla Pinwick describes the town of Ludicrous as a "train wreck." This could not be more succinct. I hate to use my unpublished story as an example here, but Ludicrous is a town that makes Glennerdells look normal. And yes, I just said that about a town called Glennerdells.

In fact, it was so crazy that for the first few chapters I had a hard time getting into it. But now that I'm done with my journey into Ludicrous and back again, I present the official review, the good and the bad.

The bad:
--It's a bit unpolished. Commas where there shouldn't be, incorrect grammar like "had went." Sometimes the wrong word was used, such as multiple times the word "corporate" was used instead of cooperate. Nothing major that muddled the meaning, however.

The good:
--Priscilla Pinwick's name. A+
--Food descriptions. Just for the record, food descriptions will alwa…