The Fearless Traveler’s Guide to Wicked Places by Peter Begler is a middle grade novel currently scheduled for release in March of 2017. Twelve-year-old Nell Perkins knows there is magic at work that she can’t yet understand. Her mother has been taken by witches and turned into a bird. Nell must journey to get her mother back, even if it takes her deep into the Wicked Places, the frightening realm where Nightmares resides. There she must break the spell and stop the witches from turning our world into a living nightmare.
The Fearless Traveler’s Guide to Wicked Places has a wonderful concept with a consistent amount of fantasy and imagination woven through the tale. The concept of the two realms and the threat the witches pose to all were very well done. I liked the characters of Nell and her brothers, as well as the complexity of the set up and major players. I thought the characters were complex enough not to fall flat, but the sheer volume of craziness happening and the danger brewing go to be a little overwhelming at times. I was often flipping pages eagerly and holding my breath, but I feel like I lost steam part way through. The magic and world building felt complete, and the information shared at a good pace, so that there was a limited amount of that information dump feel. A good pick for a middle grade reader looking for a complex fantasy with a good combination of adventure and coming of age. Nell's growth and self awareness was one of my favorite parts of the story, although the family relationships were another high point as far as I am concerned.