Get in to Ashtown

“To the traveler’s eyes, the motel is dead and useless, a roadside tragedy, like the remains of some unfortunate animal in a ditch – glimpsed, mourned, and forgotten before the next bend in the road. But to the lean boy with the dark skin and the black hair struggling in the thick brush behind the pool, the motel is alive, and it is home.”

I know I am biased. I just am. Can’t help it. When your brother writes a great book, people just expect you to like it. And I do. But I like it more than that. I like it so much that I am willing to tell you all that you absolutely need this book. Get it! Don’t live another minute without it!

The thing that I love about Nate’s books (all of them) is his sense of place. He writes stories that are mysterious, exciting, and provoking, but they all occur here. In our very own backyards. In our very own country. With our very own people.

This isn’t an accident. American children have grown up in a literary tradition that leads us to believe that if something magical was ever going to happen in your life, you would need to live in England. Nate anchors the magic of the real world to the magic of his written worlds. He  points us not into the magic of some imaginary world to get us lost, but he uses that world as a lens to point back to the magic of our world. The one that God created. The one that is right past your back deck. The one that is on country roads and in pizza places. The kind of magic that we live in every day, immersed so completely that we forget to see it.

The thing that really stands out to me in The Dragon’s Tooth (beyond the brilliant characters) is how many pieces of world history are linked in to this story. Ancient stories of explorers and villains, all the way down to Daniel Boone. They all have a part. They are all connected. They are all pieces of a story, fragments of something that we didn’t understand before. Connected to each other – not because Nate wrote a story in which they all fit together (although he did), but because a much greater Author wrote them in to a much greater story.

I want my children to see that kind of story as we drive by some run down motel. I want them to see magic when they see dolphins. I want them to feel the kind of wild life that this world is made of as parts of a wild story that God wrote. I want them to wonder, to ask, to look. I want them to be explorers of our own world.

Books are like training wheels for wonder, and first our children have to be explorers of places like Narnia, and Bag End, and Ashtown. They need to practice seeing along side someone who does. Nate does.

You can buy this marvelous book here. If you don’t have cash right now, sell something on Ebay. I’m not even joking.

This is not a book to wait on. This is medicine for  rainy days (you know they are coming), therapy for tired people who forgot to enjoy having options for breakfast. This is the good stuff! Go get it!

For all you people in Spokane or Coeur d’ Alene, Nate will be doing an event at Costco this weekend. What a great opportunity to stock up on good reading, Christmas gifts, and paper towels, all at the same time!

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19 Responses to “Get in to Ashtown”


  • “Books are like training wheels for wonder, and first our children have to be explorers of places like Narnia, and Bag End, and Ashtown. They need to practice seeing along side someone who does. Nate does.” Well put.
    I am on my third reading and still uncovering sweet nuggets…
    I am biased as well but would not say READ IT unless I thought Ashtown is a fantastic book.
    As C.S.Lewis said, “I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.”

  • Which Costco? There’s one in Coeur d’Alene and two in Spokane.

  • Fantastic book!!! I could not put it down and loved it so much that when I finished it, I just had to start it all over again immediately. Truly “medicine for rainy days”.

  • (Kimberly — CDA.)

    This is my favorite of Nate’s books thus far. More grip than Norm Abrams’ entire vise collection.

  • I also, of natural bias, thought it was terrific. I really liked all the historical explorers’ names popping up. Southern California doesn’t have the rainy days so much, so you have to make another excuse or just keep the book in convenient places to read when you can. I really liked the Diana Boone character and expect good things from her.

  • Addendum: Now if only it had more grip than all of my entire vice collection…

  • *gigglesnort* at Valerie.

    I second the high praise – Nate’s book was not only fantastic in itself, it sent me back to a childhood favorite (Treasure Island) with renewed pleasure!

  • Can’t wait to read it! My oldest son, who’s 10yrs, just finished it. So, now it’s all mine! Hee-hee ;0)
    My son had a hard time putting it down. I had to remind him homework first, then Dragon’s Tooth =D

  • I’m reading this to my kids and we just passed my favorite part so far – the “baptismal” oath. “Do you renounce…” Brilliant. We’re going to be miserable waiting for each installment!

  • I just got back from Costco in CO tonight. We were all looking for it but it wasn’t there –I guess it’s just regional? We’re looking forward to reading it!

  • It’s so good I had to stop reading it because it was interfering with me being a mom. But I think I can start again now and still continue clothing and feeding people.

    So all we need is “The Merkle Circus Hits The Road” and we’ll have at least one excellent book from each member of your entire immediate family. I’m waiting, money in hand.

  • This is good. I may need to follow my 14y.o. daughter’s admonitions and go ahead and READ IT.
    Moms are just too busy sometimes.
    We gave it to her on vacation and she disappeared for a day and a half–I think it cured the sore throat she had at the time, too. :)
    Powerful stuff, a great story.

  • My 14 year old son ranked this book alongside some of Tolkiens. My 12 year old daughter described it as; creepy, exciting, and fun! They are both avid readers having read more than my husband and I together. It’s definitely another great series from Wilson.

    Having Nate’s autograph on the inside was a delight to them as well. ;)

  • We thought it was wild like Chesterton, and didn’t get enough sleep till it was finished.

  • Got it! Loved it! Ready for the sequel already!
    It is, like many here, my favorite of his books thus far. I’m excited for the next one to hit the shelves.

  • BTW- if you haven’t read “Treasure Island” before, you should definitely read it before reading Dragon’s Tooth. It had been a while since I read it, but I LOVED all of the RL Stevenson nods. I finished the book slightly before midnight. About 12:30 I was in bed and one of the jokes hit. I couldn’t stop laughing.

  • My husband kindly gave our copy to me first, but the morning after an evening he spent reading it we had a massive breakfast, even for us breakfastphiles. This was my favorite of Nate’s after Tilt-a-Whirl.

  • “Always breakfast like a condemned man. You never know what the day may bring.” (From memory, so don’t shoot me if I didn’t get it exactly right.) Happily, I got to that line just after I’d been treated to a morning repast of prodigious proportions, so it didn’t make me mad with hunger. (Also, it reminded me of this which I’d just seen a day or two earlier. Evidently, a lot of condemned men don’t have much of an appetite.)

  • I am telling everyone I know about this book! So happy with it. Three of seven family members have read The Dragon’s Tooth and each of us has declared it all things amazing! As I was reading, I couldn’t help but notice that I was as concerned for Cyrus and Antigone as I was for Oliver Twist. When you have a young character and you care about them, are interested in what will happen to them and get a little queasy at the creepy people who are messing with them, that’s good writing. I’m know my 15yo and 12yo were not thinking that way as they read it but they finished it quickly and each of them yapped my ears off for a good amount of time, recounting their favorite parts and what they appreciated about the story. (My 15yo said, This is what Percy Jackson could have been.) Much appreciation to ND for entertaining our family again…as I said, we’re ready for the next book. Tell your brother to get writing!! (Pretty please.)

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