Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye by Tania del Rio and Wilhelm Staehle

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Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye by Tania del Rio and Wilhelm Staehle

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A pleasure on the eye and make no mistake, this book is also inventive in the story department. A must-read, a must-buy, a must-own.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: November 2015
Publisher: Quirk Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781594748035

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Meet Warren the Thirteenth. He's the latest in a long line of, well, Warrens, who have been running the Warren Hotel. Unfortunately for him, his father, Warren the Twelfth, passed away too early, and control of the building has passed not to him but to his exceedingly lazy uncle Rupert. Unfortunately for the lad, Rupert's fallen for the charms of 'Aunt' Annaconda, a right harridan, who is concerned with but one thing – finding the All-Seeing Eye, a treasure she is sure is hidden about the Hotel. It's now the most attacked, damaged, run-down and guest-free hotel you can imagine – and Warren has to do everything to try and keep it an inheritance worth his care. But when customers do start to arrive, nobody can see what lies ahead…

To start with the obvious, this book looks wondrous. It's a rare thing today to pick a book up and just caress it, however much you love them – so don't you dare rely on an electronic copy of this. It's in a fancy, large square hardback format, and there is great visual fun with semi-secret messages, different fonts, Olde Schoole layout, backwards writing, white on black pages – and that's before you get to the illustrations. Every spread has something, and never does it feel like filler – it perfectly matches and accompanies what you're seeing, and it all looks resplendent in just black and white and red. It's all in a Victorian, woodcut-effect style – even when it features go-faster blurs, and even when Warren the Thirteenth looks like a chubbier Crazy Frog.

Ah, yes, Warren's looks. By the end you will discover that none of the characters really look or behave like an average human being. There seems to be a girl who can appear and vanish like nobody's business, there's a character swathed in bandages who communicates via pictograms on playing cards, and that's before you get to who or what's in the boiler room… But this is not some macabre selection of freaks and ghouls. As befitting the prestigious amounts of life in the design, this is a bright and vigorous frolic, one where mood never presses down on the page, however concerning things get. Whatever the levels of gothic and melodramatic, the brio of the storytelling shines through, meaning this really will be a book the young will cope with, and breeze through probably unconcerned they're in the company of greatness.

The adult reading this will, I think, not engage quite so effusively. Don't get me wrong, this deserves five stars for so many reasons, but I cannot see me recommending this to all ages amongst my friends and family, unlike some other volumes. I guess there is just a smidgen of silliness too much for all tastes. The passing adult, I can imagine, will pick this up, glory at how it all looks, and find perhaps a level of childishness they might not universally find favour with.

But what they will come away with is an appreciation for the style, and in the end there are some brilliantly clever parts of the plot here, that make this a book generally to cherish, and reread. It's not a case of a mediocre book being given a lift by high production values – this is a seriously enjoyable delight. You get to the end of chapters and stop – not for a yawn or more coffee, but to ration the pages. It's that good. It opens up what I sincerely hope is an equally fine and much-loved series.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

I think the last children's book I gloried so much over receiving to review due to smarts and beauty combined was Goth Girl: and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell.

Buy Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye by Tania del Rio and Wilhelm Staehle at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye by Tania del Rio and Wilhelm Staehle at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye by Tania del Rio and Wilhelm Staehle at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye by Tania del Rio and Wilhelm Staehle at Amazon.com.


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