Saturday, February 17, 2018

Book Review: PETER: A DARKENED FAIRYTALE by William O'Brien

Original Goodreads review posted on Jun 01, 2013.

"In a quiet sleepy place nestle a few tiny houses, a bridge, and a handful of shops. Unknown to Peter, on one particular morning - the morning of his tenth birthday - will reveal more than just the usual collection of presents. Stumbling into a secret place, he travels through many hidden worlds and embarks upon a fantastic journey. Hally the lifelongian, Arnica the maiden, Wind Sail the white witch and a beautiful elf called Slip will all guide him on his quest. Searching through the Purple Forest, Peter makes haste to rescue a friend, which proves more difficult than Peter could ever imagine. The gentle tale soon finds its way into some very dark places as the evil Cirinian and her followers try to thwart Peter's progress. Guards, ghosts, spirits and vampirism add to the unknown dimensions that Peter encounters. A creation of surreal places and characters, Peter: A Darkened Fairytale is an exciting and imaginative fantasy trip from beginning to end."
—Back Cover Description (Hardcover Edition)

This book feels almost like a dream, starting out fairly benign and gradually becoming darker and more intense as the story progresses. At first, our protagonist's journey seems to be a series of brief, disconnected adventures that merely slingshot us from one locale to the next. But as we continue to travel deeper and deeper into O'Brien's world, connections start to form between the various adventures Peter undertakes and a central antagonist emerges. From the large array of individuals Peter encounters throughout the book, he accumulates a small group of companions who help him face this threat, unconditional friendship and love blossoming between Peter and his friends.

I really enjoyed this story. The narrative is full of rich descriptions and I loved O'Brien's flowery prose. The way the story is written feels a lot like a fairytale right out of The Brother's Grimm. Some folks might find that sort of writing style outdated, but I personally loved it. The only difficulties I had were that as the book continues, the gradual intensity and relentless flow of the plot becomes a bit exhausting. The novel also contained quite a few non sequiturs that often left me scratching my head, though perhaps that was intentional as it sort of fits with the dreamy quality of the novel. 4 out of 5 stars.

Peter: A Darkened Fairytale is available on

"Living in a small village in Lancashire, England, the author has written a number of books based on the tale 'Peter'. In the 1990s, the author had twenty-one articles published, both nationally and internationally. After gaining an honours degree in Geosciences, doing post-graduate study in Occupational Health and Fitness, and earning a masters degree in Science Communication, he developed an interest for simple communication. A passion for writing again emerged, and combining various interests in fine art, museum exhibition display, biology, geology, poetry, and the mystical led to the story of Peter: A Darkened Fairytale. The author still retains a childlike vision of the world, which is conveyed throughout his books."
—Amazon Author Biography


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