245 pages
ISBN 0-00-648166-3
DDC jC813'.54




Reviewed by Patricia Morley

Patricia Morley is professor emerita of English and Canadian Studies at
Concordia University and an avid outdoor recreationist. She is the
author of several books, including The Mountain Is Moving: Japanese
Women’s Lives, Kurlek and Margaret Laurence: T


Kenneth Oppel’s fiction for young adults stands at the top of the
charts in recent years, and deservedly so. Silverwing (1998), his novel
about the adventures of a Silverwing bat called Shade, garnered a host
of awards. Sunwing has the same strengths: a thrilling storyline, a
sympathetic and impressive protagonist, emotional depth, lyric
description, and suspense.

Shade is searching for his father and the secret of the bands when he
discovers thousands of bats near a mysterious building in a vast forest.
His adventures feature epic dangers, as in the fantasy worlds of C.S.
Lewis, J.R. Tolkien and, more recently, J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter
fame. Oppel’s fantasy world presents a battle between good and evil as
Shade battles Goth, king of a race of giant cannibal bats. Shade needs
courage and cleverness to rescue his father and stop Goth from creating
eternal night.

Precise and evocative prose partners an exciting storyline. In the
opening paragraph, for example, as Shade sails through the forest,
“naked elms, maples and oaks [blaze] in the moon’s glow, their
branches spiked with icicles,” while “trees lay toppled like the
skeletons of giant beasts” and “groans of freezing wood” fill the

Like Oppel’s Silverwing, Sunwing is a tour de force of fantasy and
adventure. As Jean Little has observed, Oppel’s work enchants
sophisticated adults as well as imaginative children. Highly


Oppel, Kenneth., “Sunwing,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 24, 2024,