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Fantasy adventure series is set in Duluth

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Matthew J. Krengel (Photo submitted)2 / 2

Picture if you will another Duluth, one filled with myths and legends. This alternate reality has all the basic landmarks such as the Lift Bridge, the Glensheen Mansion and Enger Tower. However, this Duluth has a little more magic.

Duluth is the setting for St. Cloud author Matthew J. Krengel's "Map Maker" book series.

"I've always loved to read fantasy books, so I was excited to make a fantasy series set here in Minnesota," Krengel told the Budgeteer.

Krengel has published three books in this young adult fantasy series. The stories focus on a teenager, Jane Timbrill, who lives in the Twin Cities but visits her grandparents in Duluth every summer. During her visits, odd things happen around her.

"A stranger gives her a map and through a series of circumstances, she finds out she has the ability to cross over into a magical world through that map. It's a world that has all of our myths and legends in it. It also looks exactly like ours," Krengel said.

However, not all is well in this world. An evil ruler is trying to break into the real world and take over and Jane is drawn into the conflict. And so begins a series of adventures that lead Jane over the shores of Lake Superior from Thunder Bay to the Apostle Islands.

Although Krengel has never lived in Duluth, he was inspired by his own visits up north as a child and his vacations as an adult.

"Once we could drive, a friend and I would go up and walk along the boardwalk and do a lot of black-and-white photography," Krengel said. "It's kind of become a pilgrimage for us to come up at least a couple of times a year to hike the North Shore, go along the boardwalk and visit Canal Park."

Krengel borrowed local legends such as the Thunder Bay Sleeping Giant to incorporate in his stories.

Krengel is very careful to be accurate in his portrayal of the city. He describes his latest book, "The Map Maker's Quest" as a "'National Treasure' type of hunt" but with Duluth landmarks.

"There was one part in book three where I had written that you could see the Lift Bridge from the second story of Enger Tower. Then we went and visited last year, I realized, you can't see it from here, I'd better rewrite that section," Krengel said.

The Map Maker series is Krengel's first published work. By day he works as a corrections sergeant in the St. Cloud state prison.

He says he started writing because he loved coming up with stories in his head. He wrote another book, "The Assassin's Code" which he initially took to North Star Press in 2012. They told him they liked it, but, "It wasn't set in Minnesota."

"And I said OK, a Minnesota fantasy, I can do that," Krengel said.

Six months later he submitted "The Map Maker," which North Star published in 2012. Krengel has been nominated for a Northeastern Minnesota Book Award in the young adult category in 2013, 2014 and 2015. This year will be his first time attending the event on May 21 at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He will also be available for book signings at the Miller Hill Barnes and Noble on May 22 and 23.

Teri Cadeau

Teri Cadeau is a reporter for the Budgeteer.

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