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The Robe of Skulls: The First Tale from the Five Kingdoms (Tales from the Five Kingdoms) Paperback – 4 Jun 2007
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24-carat gold. I forgot reading could be this much fun. * Philip Ardagh * This is a completely madcap adventure with an endearingly idiosyncratic cast of goodies, baddies and talking bats. For everyone who likes their fairy tales fast, fun and funky. * Publishing News * A nice fat read for young readers who enjoy fantasy fairy tales mixed with a dose of Shrek-like humour and laced with suitably inventive and crazy characters * Carousel * A good mix of adventure and humour. * Newbury Weekly News * ...it is witty and surprisingly verbally sophisticated -- Siobhan Parkinson * INIS * If you're bored of princes and princesses doing the same old thing, then the Tales from the Five Kingdom series is for you. The Robe of Skulls is the kind of fairy tale you can really get your teeth into - the heroes are awesome and the baddies are even better. * The List *
All is not well in the crumbling castle high above the mountain village of Fracture. The sorceress Lady Lamorna has her heart set on a new robe. It is a very expensive new robe. To get the cash she will stop at nothing, including kidnapping, blackmail and more than a little black magic. But she reckons without the heroic Gracie Gillypot, not to mention a gallant if rather scruffy prince, two chatty bats, the wickedest stepsister ever, a troll with a grudge - and some very Ancient crones.See all Product description
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They are helped by the delightful Marlon (a somewhat dodgy bat), his daughter Millie and Alfie (bat in training) and even find support in Lady Lamorna's troll servant, Gubble. It was, of course, written for children, but I loved it, and I am sure children (who can take a bit of scary stuff - werewolves, for instance) like it too.
There are four sequels. I have ordered the lot.
Well, "beleaguered but brave" Gracie Gillypot is a direct descendant of Tiffany, but written for perhaps a just slightly younger audience. The plot is complicated but easy enough to follow. The secondary characters are nicely drawn. There are lessons to be learned here, and good triumphs, but it is all wrapped up in a very entertaining package. I would think a young reader would be very pleased about finishing this, and about getting some of the sly humor. It's just a book to feel good about.
Her plan includes a couple of members of the royal party, some frogs, and blackmail.
Then there is Gracie Gillypot, a shy girl who spends most of her days locked up in the cellar under the stairs of her house. When she's not spending time with the spiders under the stairs she is running after her stepfather and complying with his every wish. When a talking bat finds her one day, he promises her a better life and takes off. Days later he returns and helps Gracie escape. He's taking her to see the Ancient Crones, who will hopefully be able to help her with her wicked stepsister and stepfather problem.
Last but not least there is the prince that scoots under Lady Lamorna's radar. Marcus is a rather curious prince who really doesn't want anything to do with royalty. When his brother is turned into a frog he is determined to find the person who committed this heinous crime. Through a twist of fate he is paired up with Gracie and they set off to put Lady Lamorna in her rightful place.
This book was an absolute riot. While it is a super-fast read, you will find yourself enthralled with the quirkiness of the characters and loving the story. The illustrations are very comical, too! While this is definitely a middle grade novel, it is definitely suited for older and younger readers alike. I really enjoyed the quick-moving plot that keeps taking twists and turns. I loved how the author connected everything in a way that wasn't predictable and added to the hilarity of the book.
Overall, I really liked THE ROBE OF SKULLS and highly recommend it!
Reviewed by: Tasha
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