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The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic

Review

The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic

written by Jennifer Trafton, illustrated by Brett Helquist

Creating an imaginary world that's original, believable and comprehensible is certainly among the greatest challenges for any writer of fantasy. It's far too easy to get bogged down in details of geography, demographics and politics, losing sight of the story and its characters along the way. Debut novelist Jennifer Trafton has cleverly solved this problem by making her fantasy world's geography, in many ways, the story itself.

THE RISE AND FALL OF MOUNT MAJESTIC is set on The Island at the Center of Everything (or so its inhabitants believe); as one character puts it, "The sea goes on and on forever…because there is no proof to the contrary, and if there is no proof to the contrary, then it is true." At the center of this all-important island (or nearly the center, anyway) lies Mount Majestic, which slowly rises and falls like the tides. And at the top of that mountain lies the castle, where young King Lucas the Loftier reigns happily enough, except when he's forced into a temper tantrum because his kingdom has run out of his beloved pepper.

Meanwhile, in the shadow of Mount Majestic, 10-year-old Persimmony Smudge overhears some alarming information when she's out in the forest, hiding from poison-tongued jumping tortoises. The disgruntled Leafeaters, tired of the humans' tendencies to raid the forests for trees, have hatched a plot to dig under Mount Majestic, to beat the king to the treasure prophesied to lie buried there. Little do they all know, though, that there's a rumor about what else lies buried under the mountain. Some say that a giant lies sleeping under the mountain, which rises and falls with his breath.

Persimmony, following in her vanished father's footsteps, must venture to the Snoring Cave to see if the rumors are true. But what if people laugh at her tales of giants the way they laughed at her father? And where is her father, anyway? Could he have been eaten by the giant himself? How can Persimmony stop the Leafeaters' burrowing plans before they tickle the sleeping giant awake and destroy the island forever?

If THE RISE AND FALL OF MOUNT MAJESTIC occasionally gets bogged down in complex political divisions and self-consciously clever dialogue, it more than makes up for these shortcomings with vivid characterizations --- especially of Persimmony herself --- and an imaginative sense of place. Brett Helquist's detailed illustrations help bring the island's topography and inhabitants to life and further enhance the novel's humor and spirit of fun. Jennifer Trafton is clearly a talented author with a knack for tale-telling and a keen sense of adventure. Readers will look forward to seeing what new worlds she'll create next.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on December 8, 2011

The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic
written by Jennifer Trafton, illustrated by Brett Helquist

  • Publication Date: December 8, 2011
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin
  • ISBN-10: 0142419346
  • ISBN-13: 9780142419342