In this middle-grade fantasy novel, two Irish kings brag about their superiority—with mixed results.
At a great feast, King Leon of the Land of the Leprechauns boasts to his many guests that there’s no leader greater in all the land. However, the king’s most trusted adviser, David, begs to differ, stating that there does exist a man as great as he is. Leon’s claim, David says, does an injustice to this other man—and all of his subjects, as well. King Leon initially imprisons David for his impudence, but then he asks him to obtain proof of the existence of this supposedly great man—another king, named Josh the Daring. After a lengthy stay at Josh’s kingdom, David returns, vindicated, to the Land of the Leprechauns. King Leon and his wife, Anna, eventually also go to Josh’s kingdom, and the two kings learn a lot from each other. However, it turns out that Leon can only leave if Josh gives the word—which he refuses to do. When Leon’s people come for him, the two sides fight, and the leprechauns turn wells dry and rid cows of milk, among other things. Will the two kingdoms ever see eye to eye? Collins (The Juggler and the Magic Harp, 2014, etc.) is a prolific writer of whimsical Irish fiction, and this new work certainly fits that bill. Its overall concept is fantastical and imaginative. However, the prose isn’t very strong in some places, as the narrator notes unnecessary details, such as a repeated point that the king and queen are the only dark-haired people in their kingdom. The novel could also do with more thorough editing, as there are punctuation errors throughout (“ ‘Release him said the king,’ and he was immediately released”). Some of the characters’ speeches, though clever, are grandiose and wordy, and sometimes difficult to read. That said, the story itself is lovely, effectively warning readers of the dangers of jumping to conclusions.
often charming, if uneven, tale about the repercussions of being a braggart.