Today's Kid Lit Blog Hop post is a return to the delightful guinea pigs we met in The Princelings of the East.
113 pages, Smashwords edition, read on my Nook in black and white.
I received this book last spring in a giveaway. A giveaway does imply some commitment to provide a review, but in no way dictates the nature of said review. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and no one else.
Our friends Fred and George of Marsh Castle are back. They've been living with Prince Lupin, and working on the development of strawberry juice power. But a wine shortage has darkened the horizon, and Fred and George join with their old friend Victor to visit Chateau Dimerie and find out what's going on. Along the way, they are pressed into service by pirates, meet a ghost, and are plunged into battle alongside an army that actually knows what it is doing. Fred and George are no soldiers, but they have guts and brains, and come out okay in the end. Realism is preserved (if one can speak of realism in a world run by guinea pigs and powered on strawberry juice) as no one escapes unscathed before making their way to the happy ending.
I am delighted to report that Ms. Pett has returned in this second volume of the Princelings trilogy even stronger than she was in the first. Subtle changes have made me more comfortable with the idea that these decidedly anthropomorphic characters are, nonetheless, guinea pigs, much as we accept Ratty and Mole of The Wind in the Willows. The world of the Castles is becoming more clear to me, and the story is fast-paced. The action seems to me just right for middle grade children (say, ages 9-12, as the writing is not simplistic at all). Dangers faced are real, and there is some suspense, but violence is minimal and the ending happy. Fred and George are, as they should be, different men (er, guinea pigs) than they were at the beginning. There is just a whiff of romance, and a little bit of legal/political business at the end which may not be as exciting to young readers, though it is clearly important to the development of the series.
Ms. Pett's writing is clear and strong, the book well-edited, with very few awkward moments and no typos that I noticed. Her illustrations are, as always, delightful, if too small on my Nook.
I am looking forward to reading the next installment in the series, and will reserve that final 1/2 star so that there's room to go up if the next book, as I confidently expect, is even better. 4.5 stars.
Full Disclosure: I won this copy of The Princelings and the Pirates in a 3rd-party giveaway, and received nothing whatsoever from the author or publisher in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own and no one else's.