The Peddler’s Road by Matthew Cody is a fantastic retelling of the story of the Pied Piper with cameos from several other fairytales and most importantly starring a sister and brother team where the brother has a physical disability and saves the day anyway. I was excited about The Peddler’s Road the moment I saw it because I was pumped about a middle grade fantasy that was retelling the Pied Piper story (since I like dash of creepy!), but when I started reading, I realized that this story is so much more on top of that awesomeness. This is a book that I will actively put into the hands of young readers, especially young readers who have a disability and want to see themselves as the hero of a story.
Note: I received an advanced copy of The Peddler’s Road from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.
The Peddler's Road by Matthew Cody (The Secrets of the Pied Piper #1)
Published by Knopf on Oct. 27th, 2015
Genres: Fairytale Retelling, Fantasy, MG
Page Length: 368 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley
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It is said that in the thirteenth century, in a village called Hamelin, a piper lured all of the children away with his magical flute, and none of them were ever seen again.
Today tough, pink-haired Max and her little brother, Carter, are stuck in modern-day Hamelin with their father . . . until they are also led away by the Piper to a place called the Summer Isle. There they meet the original stolen children, who haven’t aged a day and who have formed their own village, vigilantly guarded from the many nightmarish beings that roam the land.
No one knows why the Piper stole them, but Max and Carter’s appearance may be the key to returning the lost children of Hamelin—and to going home themselves. But to discover the secrets of the Piper, Max and Carter will have to set out on a mysterious quest down the dangerous Peddler’s Road.
- I mentioned that this is a Pied Piper retelling right?? In this trend of retellings being the current big thing, this is the first Pied Piper retelling I’ve come across and so I was understandably excited. The Pied Piper is a rather creepy story with pretty serious consequences and can’t easily have a happy ending, so I was fascinated to see how Cody would handle it. He does a great job, but I won’t spoil the twists for you ;-).
- On top of the basic retelling, The Peddler’s Road interweaves several other fairytales, including Baba Yaga and The Nutcracker (at least I assume that’s where the evil rat kingdom is pulled from!). There is also magic completely unique to this series and a whole new fairytale ‘discovered’ early on. Definitely a must read for fairytale fans!
- I can’t get over how happy I am to see a young hero with a disability actually get to save the day without his disability getting magically fixed. Carter has a club foot and has to wear a brace to be able to walk, but still noticeably limps. Cody does a great job of discusses Carter’s experiences growing up with a visible disability and shows that you can still be a hero even if you can’t run. Gah, I’m just so freaking happy okay??!?
- Carter shares the spotlight with his sister Max and they make a great pair. They have the perfect mix of sibling bickering while still caring for each other deeply and being loyal to each other to a fault. Also, Max dyes her hair pink at the beginning of the story, so you get the idea of what kind of kid she is, ha.
- I often complain that middle grade stories don’t have an interesting enough plot, but The Peddler’s Road doesn’t suffer from this! I found myself engrossed with the adventure, guessing how things were going to turn out, and a bit worried during the action that someone was going to get hurt. Very much a fun read.
- I liked how many other fairytales were woven into this story, but it made it therefore jarring when a fantasy element didn’t seem to be from a particular clever fairytale and was instead just a generic fantasy element. I’m hoping that some of that gets developed as the series continues, but it was distracting in this first book.
- I prefer my middle grade romance free and there were definitely two distinct romances brewing between our various characters, grrrrr. Let kids be kids!
- There are some actually quite spooky parts of The Peddler’s Road that might scare too young of readers. You need to be able to handle ghosts that aren’t very nice to be able to read this one and it might have given me nightmares when I was a kid given how much of a scaredy cat I was, ha.
The Peddler’s Road is a fantastic start to what promises to be a really great middle grade series. I signed on to it because of the Pied Piper retelling, but then found that my favorite elements were the clever interweaving of lots of fairytales and a hero with a disability. Many of you know that I’ve been struggling with my back over the last year, and for about six months I was walking with a cane because it hurt too much otherwise. I really connected with Carter’s experiences with others staring at him and using words that hurt him and I hope that this series shows everyone that heroes come in all shapes and sizes and abilities.
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
The Peddler’s Road by Matthew Cody
© 2015, Anya. All rights reserved.