The Sloughs of Ungleauw: Book Three of the Elderwood Chronicles
by M.G. Claybrook
Versaria Publishing

"But, as she would soon discover, there is a moment before you jump into nothing, where the insides howl."

Ancestral tales within the story enrich this multilayered young adult fantasy featuring a well-designed world of animal characters. As the novel opens, the Daggerouth-Ballo family—father, mother, and child—have no choice but to face exile from Hesperia, a district of flying squirrels in Elderwood. The family faces hunger and hardship while fleeing through various mysterious territories that they know only by description. The story is related in two viewpoints, quite often as backstory told in the voice of Deria Daggerouth Ballo. The learned mother shares clan history and wisdom with her daughter, Cirina.

Cirina listens while growing from a little kit struggling to master the finer points of flying into a vibrant young adult destined to reunite her clan of farmers who must become flying warriors in tumultuous times. Cirina's viewpoint becomes more prominent in later chapters while preparing to meet her destiny. After her father's death on the tail-end of the journey, she explores ways to free herself and her mother from Ungelauw, a dystopic underground fortress populated by enslaved squirrels. There, she learns to embrace life with measured ferocity, resilience, and an open heart.

Readers of epic fabulist adventure in worlds populated by squirrels, rabbits, otters, owls, crows. and the like will enjoy not only the memorable, multidimensional characters and their lively interactions but also the lyrical wordplay. Critics favorably compare Claybrook's previous books in this series to Kathryn Lasky's Guardians of Ga'Hoole, the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, and Robert C. O'Brien's The Secret of NIMH. The Elderwood Chronicles are standalone stories, enabling this third one to be savored without reading the previous books. Based on the quality of this volume, the fourth book of the series is likely to be highly anticipated by Claybrook's audience.

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