Patricia Morley is professor emerita of English and Canadian studies at
Concordia University, and the author of Kurlek, Margaret Laurence: The
Long Journey Home, and As Though Life Mattered: Leo Kennedy’s Story.
Silverwing is a quest novel, a fantasy that works on many levels and
will appeal to readers of all ages. Through the adventures of a
silverwing bat, Kenneth Oppel has crafted a story that some may call
science fiction and others, a religious allegory reminiscent of C.S.
Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Unlike Lewis’s
fantasy, however, Silverwing has no overtly Christian symbolism.
Silverwing bats summer in the north and winter in the south, migrating
twice annually. During a storm on his first journey, young Shade, the
runt of his colony, becomes lost, and undergoes many fascinating
adventures and terrifying dangers before being reunited with his mother
and Frieda, the Chief Elder of his tribe. He is briefly tempted to
betray his colony to two giant flesh-eating bats who worship Zotz, a
devil figure, but shakes free from both the temptation and their
Kenneth Oppel’s prose is poetic, humorous, and dramatic by turn. (The
humor and idealism in Silverwing is also reminiscent of Jason’s Quest,
Margaret Laurence’s delightful fantasy of four animal friends in the
As Shade’s first quest ends, he is about to start another, “maybe
the greatest of all,” as he searches for his father and for the
meaning of a mysterious promise made to all bats. Highly recommended.