Jennifer Trafton’s The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic opens in true fairy-tale fashion: “A young girl with mouse-colored hair and dirty feet hid under a threadbare quilt and dreamed of glory.” The young girl would be Persimmony Smudge, second daughter of an irascible basket weaver, who gets her chance to save the world. Persimmony embarks first on a quest simply to find her favorite hat, which the wind blows into the dangerous Willow Woods. There she learns a dangerous secret that she must share with the spoiled twelve-year-old monarch of the kingdom known to its inhabitants as “The Island at the Center of Everything.” The bratty King Lucas the Loftier rejects Persimmony’s warnings and sends her on what he thinks is a fool’s quest—to discover whether there’s any truth to rumors of a giant sleeping in a cave at the center of the island.
Through twists and turns and encounters with enemies who later become allies, Persimmony and her friend Worvil, a little man with a mighty imagination, discover that their island home may not actually be at center of everything, may not, in fact, even be an island, and that there’s a good reason why Mount Majestic rises and falls. (Trafton, who lives in Franklin, first got the idea for The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic while hiking in the British Isles, where she found she couldn’t shake the notion that the oddly shaped hills concealed sleeping giants.)
Inhabited by a variety of fanciful creatures and illustrated by Brett Helquist, the artist who brought Lemony Snickett’s A Series of Unfortunate Events to life, this debut novel is a fairy tale in the classical sense, filled with omens, prophecies, twists of fate, and happy endings. Readers looking for the Snickett ironic dystopia won’t find it here. Instead, Jennifer Trafton whips up a fantasy filled with sassy voice and verve, with a satisfying conclusion and a hint of more to come. As Publisher’s Weekly notes in a starred review, “Trafton imbues her tale with a delightful sense of fun and fascinating, well-rounded characters–playful wordsmithing and flowing dialogue make this an excellent choice for bedtime read-aloud.”
Jennifer Trafton will read from and sign copies of The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic at Cover To Cover Bookstore in Arlington on Jan. 27 at 5 p.m.
Tagged: Children & YA