What begins Dickensian turns Tolkien-esque in this quest replete with magic and mystery.
Peter Nimble is an orphan. Blinded by ravens in infancy and made to steal for the town’s beggar-monger (think Fagin), Peter becomes an expert thief and pickpocket. His wretched existence changes when he steals a box containing eggs that are actually three pairs of magical eyes. When Peter drops the first pair into his eye-sockets, he’s instantly swept away. Thus begins a perilous adventure wrought from a riddle found in a bottle. After much travail, Peter learns that the mysterious eyes are not always dependable. He seeks and eventually finds a vanished kingdom, where he faces a tyrannical king. The king has brainwashed all the adults and enslaved all of their children, who are controlled by a horde of bloodthirsty apes. The action never flags, even though the suspense does. With one onslaught after another, the violence turns from suggested to overt, with weaponry and bloody battles. Solving the riddle and embracing his destiny are just the beginning of Peter’s problems. In the end it’s Peter’s true talents, not magic, that prove most reliable.
Auxier has a juggler’s dexterity with prose that makes this fantastical tale quicken the senses, even if it does bog down from time to time. (Fantasy. 8-12)