Warren the 13th and the Whispering Woods by Tania del Rio and Will Staehle
|Warren the 13th and the Whispering Woods by Tania del Rio and Will Staehle|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: It's the writing here that makes this series fantasy, but the artwork that makes the books fantastic. All told, it's a winner.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 240||Date: March 2017|
|Publisher: Quirk Books|
|External links: Author's website|
If you haven't already, meet Warren the 13th and the walking hotel he inherited last time. Yes, that's walking hotel – a huge multi-storey, fading grandeur of a hotel on thin robotic legs, that provides the most varied views from any holiday establishment anywhere. It is kind of falling apart however, and Warren can't really rely on anyone else to solve the problem – but now it's done worse. It's fallen over. And in an effort to rescue the situation, he has found himself swapped by a changeling that is trying to mimic him, a changeling that knows just how much one of the hotel's residents means to the Queen of the Witches…
If you still haven't caught up with the series opener, let me tell you that these are some of the most luxurious middle grade books out. The look is superlative – engravings (or pictures designed to look as engravings) everywhere you turn, fancy scroll-work and edging, and just a wonderful sense of visual impact. It comes as no major surprise to find it's actually the designer who created the world and the main character, and not his collaboratrix. It doesn't go down the whole fancy font and LARGE PRINT path, as drive past it in a Rolls Royce leaving it for dust. The book is almost beautiful – which is most rich when it concerns a twelve year old hotelier who looks like an 8-bit game mock-up of Crazy Frog in a judge's wig.
It also looks most appropriate drenched in green. It's probably the one and the same green throughout, but here it's the sylvan green of deep woodland, there the ectoplasmic green of witch spirits, and so much more. You'd almost think this was planned… Which is where we begin to wonder – clearly we've had a red debut issue, and this green one – just how many colours are planned, and does this book work as a part of an ongoing saga?
Well, yes, and then some. It might have been a bit more newbie-friendly, but the side characters (the mute witch hunter, her daughter, the, er, whatever it is that gets called 'Sketchy') are all snappily introduced in a novel way and we're left with the consequences. And those are really quite joyous – not perhaps as universally pell-mell as you'd expect, but forever inventive, nicely wacky, and great fun to read about. There is a strong plot here, proving you can have your visual cake and the literary eating. I sought a bit of clarity and more oomph about part of the ending, but otherwise this is a superlative book. It's still a very strong entry in a wonderful series, that has to be seen to be believed. And once seen, read. And once read, most probably read again…
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs isn't too far beyond this book's age range, and is about the only thing on a par with Warren the 13th as regards concentrating on visuals.
You can read more book reviews or buy Warren the 13th and the Whispering Woods by Tania del Rio and Will Staehle at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Warren the 13th and the Whispering Woods by Tania del Rio and Will Staehle at Amazon.com.
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