“There is a very good possibility that you will not believe a word I say. Alas, it is the risk all historians take. The truest things are often the most unbelievable.”
Thus begins one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic by Jennifer Trafton, and illustrated by Brett Helquist (whose work you’ll recognize if you are familiar with A Series of Unfortunate Events), is a romp. The language alone is magical, not to mention the flute, the pots, the Leaf-eaters’ tears…
Why, for example, has no one before thought of a “Lyre-That-Never-Lies”? Brilliant. And the whole book is full to the brim and overflowing with this kind of word play.
“And so I invite you to take off your cloak of doubt, empty your pockets of all suspicions and jests, sit down before the roaring fire of my tale, and believe.”
Trafton weaves a tale of mythic proportions. Giants? Check. Rumblebumps? Check. Poison-tongued jumping tortoises? Check.
Tell me you’re not intrigued.
Mount Majestic is one of the few novels I can remember my kids asking to read again…the morning after we finished it. That probably has something to do with all the laughing out loud we did while reading it. (Full disclosure: it is best if someone reads it aloud, especially if the someone uses different voices for the characters, and if several of the voices sound suspiciously like disgruntled Irish washer women.)
Mount Majestic gets 5+ stars from our family. That includes the parents, the 12-year-old, the 10-year-old, the 8-year-old, and the 5-year-old. They are all now in full quoting-during-mundane-conversations mode.
And besides being hilarious and wickedly clever, Persimmony Smudge, our heroine, realizes in the end that as wonderful as adventures may be, there is something wonderful about plain-old, everyday existence, too.
“Life is a mess and a miracle. So pick up a broom and dance.”