The Shadows of Malabron

by Thomas Wharton
Series: The Perilous Realm #1
382 pages, Fantasy
Reviewed by Kristi

Interesting plot with engaging characters. Fun for lovers of fantasy, but not for the very young.


When rebellious runaway Will Lightfoot steals his father's motorcycle, he finds himself drawn into the Perilous Realm, the place where all the stories of our world come from. Now he is being hunted by a servant of the Night King, who seeks to make all stories his own. Will must rely on new friends: a loremaster and his granddaughter, a talking wolf, a knight-in-training, as well as others, to help him find his way home.


In a rebellious attitude, Will steals his father's motorcycle and rides off to visit a theme park, abandoning his needy younger sister at the same time. He comes to regret this decision pretty promptly, however, and it's clear he'll have to suffer the consequences for it if and when he does manage to return home.

At one point, Rowen, the loremaster's granddaughter, lies to some of her friends about where Will came from. Rowen is sometimes disobedient, ignoring her grandfather's attempts to protect her.

Otherwise, good and evil characters behave consistently according to their designation.

Spiritual Content

The Perilous Realm seems to have been created by beings called "First Ones" or "Stewards" who have now died out. At the beginning of one chapter, An Apocryphal first verse of the Kantar, or the Weaving the Perilous Realm is made of, states "All was darkness, and the Spirit awoke and danced." This verse bears some resemblance to Genesis 1:2 and suggests to this reader that the First Ones may have been created by a single Being before being given stewardship to create the Perilous Realm. This is reminiscent of the work of Tolkien, in which Eru gives power to the Valar.

Other elements in the story involve the knight errant Flinn learning to sit quietly, so that by learning to still himself at these times, he will be still inside even in battle.

There is a great deal of magic in the story, as might be expected in any fantasy. One of the characters is able to reach into the weave of the Kantar and tug at a thread to provide them with protection, as well as mention of a group of mages who seem to have gotten in over their heads.

At one point, Will mentions Harry Potter, wondering if that's one of the stories that has its origins in the Perilous Realm.

Some of the evil creatures are able to inhabit or impersonate the dead, and one is able to walk into his prey's dreams.

Both of the children, as well as the loremaster, are gifted in some way and able to see or sense things others in the Realm cannot.


There is some violence in the story. While most of it is not graphic, I would not advise the story for very young children as the word "blood" does crop up rather a lot. There is a reference at one point to lopping off limbs, and another to fountains of a city running red. The two hogmen kidnap Will with the intent of eating him, and have clearly eaten humans before.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Some drinking is mentioned, but no drunkenness.

Sexual Content

None. There is a kiss on the cheek, but little or no subtext there.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

No swearing, though the term "hellthings", used once, is coined to refer to some evil creatures. and two evil hogmen throw out some slightly rude epithets.


On the whole, I found the story entertaining and pleasantly reminiscent of Tolkien (though after certain scenes I began to wonder whether the author had been reading up on the passage through Moria too much). There was a bit at the end that reminded me annoyingly of the end of the Wizard of Oz ("There's no place like home."), but other than the triteness, this was passable.

The violence seemed fairly appropriate for the genre and expected readership, and the spiritual aspects seemed acceptable, though I will certainly keep my eyes open during future installments. I found the characters well-defined and engaging and have some suspicions about one of them that I hope to confirm in a later book of the proposed trilogy. All in all, one of the best fantasy reads I've had in a good while.

Fun Score: 4.5
Values Score: 4.5
Written for Age: 11-12

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