Next to the exhilarating renditions of Rosemary Sutcliff (The Wanderings of Odysseus, 1996) and Geraldine McCaughrean...

READ REVIEW

THE ODYSSEY

An anemic retelling of the epic is paired to crabbed, ugly illustrations.

Breaking for occasional glimpses back to Penelope’s plight in Ithaca, Cross relates Odysseus’ travels in a linear narrative that begins with his departure for Troy but skips quickly over the war’s events to get to the sack of the city of the Cicones and events following. Along with being careless about continuity (Odysseus’ men are “mad with thirst” on one page and a few pages later swilling wine that they had all the time, for instance), the reteller’s language is inconsistent in tone. It is sprinkled with the requisite Homeric references to the “wine-dark sea” and Dawn’s rosy fingers but also breaks occasionally into a modern-sounding idiom: “ ‘What’s going on?’ Athene said, looking around at the rowdy suitors.” Packer decorates nearly every spread with either lacy figures silhouetted in black or gold or coarsely brushed paintings depicting crouching, contorted humans, gods and monsters with, generally, chalky skin, snaggled teeth, beer bellies or other disfigurements. The overall effect is grim, mannered and remote.

Next to the exhilarating renditions of Rosemary Sutcliff (The Wanderings of Odysseus, 1996) and Geraldine McCaughrean (Odysseus, 2004), this version makes bland reading, and the contorted art is, at best a poor match. (afterword, maps) (Illustrated classic. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4791-9

Page Count: 178

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

No genre trope is left in the basket, making the result more a crazy quilt than a free-standing series opener.

A DARK INHERITANCE

From the UFiles series , Vol. 1

This admixture of suspicious deaths, ghosts, shifting realities, weird science, teen issues, family issues, secret organizations and unexplained events in a British town will all, no doubt, come clear in future episodes.

As the story opens, Michael suddenly develops the ability to read a suicidal dog’s intentions and teleport himself a short distance to rescue it. After this remarkable occurrence, he is forcibly inducted into a group called UNexplained Incidents, Cryptic Occurrences, Relative Nontemporal Events by the sinister, inhumanly strong Amadeus Klimt and his hot, surly, butt-kicking assistant Chantelle. Learning that he can alter events by “imagineering” himself into alternate universes, Michael squeaks past multiple murder attempts while stumbling through a nightmarish mystery. This involves moody goth schoolmate Freya and Rafferty, the killed (but not gone, thanks to “cellular memory”) former owner of both the dog and Freya’s transplanted heart. For comic relief, d’Lacey adds a younger but smarter sister to expedite Michael’s relations with the opposite sex. He also chucks in strange revelations about their long-missing father, a luridly icky science lab scene, dragons, unicorns, UFOs (possibly), a melodramatic climax featuring literal cliffhanging and several encounters with dead teens.

No genre trope is left in the basket, making the result more a crazy quilt than a free-standing series opener. (Fantasy/science fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-60876-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Another entry in the “unfortunate events” genre, kitted out with atmospheric art, unusual book design, and a wonderfully...

WARREN THE 13TH AND THE WHISPERING WOODS

From the Warren the 13th series , Vol. 2

The world’s first ambulatory hotel comes a little too close to a powerful witch’s demesne in this sequel to Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye (2015).

A gooey accident involving a pineapple sarsaparilla and an important control panel sets off an escalating chain of calamities that leaves the Warren Hotel in the charge of “Worrin,” a malign shape-shifter who has assumed the identity of its 12-year-old manager, Warren. Adding to the woes, the hotel’s security head, lavishly tattooed witch hunter Beatrice, has fallen into the clutches of Calvina—a witch queen so evil that many of the pages on which she appears are printed white on black. In a double-columned narrative festooned throughout with macabre green-and-black illustrations that thicken the gothic air considerably (particularly as the real Warren, resourceful and intrepid though he may be, is depicted as an uncommonly uglfy lad with gray skin), dismal turns abound, but all are met with fortitude and ingenious stratagems. Weirdness abounds: an apelike but refined “sap-squatch” figures prominently; along with the rest of his motley staff, Warren is thrilled to discover that walking on giant legs isn’t his beloved hotel’s only means of getting around. A visiting journalist is the one dark-skinned character in an otherwise largely white human cast.

Another entry in the “unfortunate events” genre, kitted out with atmospheric art, unusual book design, and a wonderfully homely protagonist. (Horror. 11-13)

Pub Date: March 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59474-929-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more