The Wanderers // by Cheryl Mahoney


//published 2013//

While I really enjoy following book blogs and getting new recommendations, sometimes it’s fun to follow a blog where we’ve already read a lot of the same books – and liked them!  I’ve followed Cheryl over at Tales of the Marvelous for quite some time, but despite the fact that I knew she also loves authors like Patricia C. Wrede, Robin McKinley, L.M. Montgomery,and Gail Carson Levine, I had somehow never gotten around to reading Cheryl’s own books, the Beyond the Tales series.

Her fourth book, The Lioness and the Spellspinners just came out today, and consequently the Kindle edition of The Wanderers is free this weekend in celebration.  So if this book sounds intriguing, it’s a great time to give it a try.

(From the author’s website):

Any wandering adventurer hoping to survive needs rules—and Jasper has many.  There’s Rule #2:Never make plans; Rule #20: Never make a Good Fairy angry; and the surprisingly challenging Rule #18: Always travel alone.

The talking cat breaks Rule #18 badly enough.  The witch’s daughter, desperate to escape her horrible mother, is even worse.  Between them, they up-end Jasper’s previously simple life (when all he had to worry about was an occasional giant or dragon), and prove that sometimes, rules are no help at all.

You might recognize the countryside and you may think you know what to expect.  But whether it’s a refined ogre, a youngest son in need of lots of questing help or a very dangerous Good Fairy, things here rarely go quite as the Brothers Grimm would tell it.

You’ve strayed beyond the tales…

I really enjoyed this romp of a tale.  Jasper is a great character who spends his time meandering about the countryside rescuing those who need rescued.  Despite his best efforts to continue being a loner, Jasper somehow ends up traveling with a talking cat and a girl that he sort-of-not-exactly rescued.  I liked Julie a lot, too.  I felt like Mahoney did a great job striking the balance between a girl who is independent and intelligent without crossing into that obnoxious in-your-face brand of feminism that acts like someone holding the door open for you is the equivalent of sending you to the cellars to do laundry by hand.

The stories were really fun twists on familiar tales.  The dialogue was entertaining, and the talking cat said all the things I would expect a cat to say if he could talk.

The only thing that mildly irritated me was that one of the main stories was part of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, and it felt like that bit ended a little abruptly – but then I found out that the next book in the series is the entirety of that story, so since I know I’m going to get all the details and wrap-up, I’m totally content.

Overall, I highly recommend The Wanderers.  It’s funny, lighthearted, and engaging, with a solid story to back it up.  I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series!