Since this book is now pretty much unavailable I am probably being a little silly choosing to write a review. But, reading the other reviews, both positive and negative, I felt that I had to add - This book is a picture book. Of course its a picture book - we can see that just from the front cover. So why expect it to be something else? People complain about the lack of words, but a picture book is not just about words. It is about how the words and the pictures go together and how they interact.
When you get to the end you really have to go back to the beginning and look again at the pictures. They now tell a very different story, as do the words. This is not a book to read in five minutes (as some suggest) but a book to read, then read again (and by read I mean read both the words and the pictures). I mean, I thought this was the age of visual literacy! I read it, and then again, much more slowly, and thought it was really, really good. My son read it and loved the ending, called it 'awesome', and started going on about the picture details. This is how the book is made to be read - with attention to the words and the pictures. Oh yes, and the bit about 'This is not a book for children'? I personally think that this is the narrative equivalent of the 'Not to be read after dark' notice we find on the back of the Spook's Apprentice books. It is a teaser, a challenge, a foregrounding, and not in any way a serious warning.
So, if you read the pictures as well as the words, and if you give the book time, and if you don't expect a novel dressed up in a picture book cover, this is a wonderful piece of work. If you buy this book expecting something like Patrick Rothfuss' novels, then you you are just setting yourself up for either disappointment or, if you are flexible enough, a very pleasant surprise, but you won't get a multi-thousand word novel.
This book is different to anything else you have ever read. It is also completely different to Patrick Rothfuss's other novels, the Kingkiller Chronicles. As stated in the blurb, this is not a book for kids. In a lot of ways it appears to be, but it isn't. The story revolves around a princess who lives in a marzipan castle. She has a bear, called Mr Whiffles. At first glance everything about it screams kids book. But it definitely isn't. And that isn't an exageration, this really isn't a book for kids. The story has three endings, which I thought was a really novel idea, and depending on where you finish the story can mean something different for you.
The first ending, after building up the tension, becomes quite sweet after a final twist. It's a happy ending. It's an ending you could probably read to your kids (although I haven't read it to my three year old, for fear he wants to read the rest of it, or worse still he takes it off my bookcase and reads on without my noticing sometime) then there is the second ending. If you thought the first part was scary, think again. This ending can only be described as scary. Then there's the third ending. This is the ending that Patrick is most proud of, and totally twists around the readers expectation of what is going on.
I have to make a point about the prose here. I think many people upon first reading find themselves disappointed with the lack of words. This is the total antithesis of Mr Rothfuss's previous work on the Kingkiller Chronicles, which are so long you could use the books as weights. Here you are lucky if there's a long sentence on each page. It won't take long to get all the way through this book, being just short of 70 pages. But anyone complaining about the length is missing out on the crucial thing. The quality of the prose. Every word is chosen with precision and used to maximise the impact on the reader. It's amazing how just a few short words can evoke fear, and the imagery is perfect. The word choice is simple. It almost comes across as if it's written like a childs book. And therein lies the beauty of this book. At first glance it's short, it's simple, and there's nothing much to it. And yet, there is so much more hidden within the depths. Absolutely fantastic.
I haven't even commented on the artwork yet. This is something else again. It's excellent. It has the look and feel of a child's novel. Early on there are hidden within the pictures clues to the more adult themes explored later on in the story. The artist, Nate Taylor, perfectly captures what Patrick's writing is getting at. The pictures are so detailed, and I can foresee a great future for him. This is a great product. Absolutely nothing lets it down. Great artwork, great story, and most important of all, great word choice combine to make this a joy to read.
Some people may be put off because this is different than anything else out there, or perhaps they wanted quantity over quality. Those people are missing out. This is a fantastic book for adults, who are wanting something scary and unique. I cannot recommend this highly enough. Buy it. You won't be disappointed.
A very brief excursion into the realms of the surreal proving that serious writing is no bar to a sense of humour and the beautiful illustrations enhance the text admirably. A mini classic! (but not for young children)
Awful. Neither adults nor children can enjoy this. It is horrible, not funny. I had read that other children had enjoyed it and since my son is 8 years old I thought that either he would like it or I would (I like comics), but it went straight to the dustbin after I read it first. What a waste of money. Save it. Just really sorry I bought this and the other volumen at the same time.
This is the kind of book that gives great writers a reputation for cashing in on the success of debut novels. With `The Name of the Wind' the author demonstrated what an absolute force he is to be reckoned with in the genre. Your guess is as good as mine as to why he would follow it up with this publication.
I don't have a problem with the premise, or the change in target audience- in fact I was really looking forward to be being captivated by a modern children's horror story. I don't know what surprised me more about this title- the first page with its singular sentence that proved indicative of the book's entire word count, or the subversive alternate endings that left me bemused and deflated.
Granted, there is fair and adequate warning to prospective buyers that the format for this story is more akin to a Children's fairy-tale (albeit one with a more disturbing bent) than it is to the high fantasy of the author's recent novels. But the word count is insulting to adults and children alike; the Very Hungry Caterpillar is more verbose! I read this book in less than five minutes and I like to savour a story, so skim-readers beware.
The ultimate problem with this book, due to the meager word count and disturbing/anti-climactic conclusion is that it appeals neither to adults nor young children. Adult fans of Patrick Rothfuss will likely be appalled by the incongruity between the price-tag and the limited narrative- this title will be read from cover to cover by most readers in less time than it takes to read the synopsis for a George R. R. Martin novel. While young readers will no doubt be left, if not a little traumatized by the final ending, then at least with a broadened fear of monsters lurking in the shadows than they were prior to beginning this story. The only readers I can imagine this appealing to are parents with a twisted sense of humour with children who don't scare easily.
There is no indication with the `The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle' of this author's talent- it's passable at best. I'm not saying the story is awful, as part of an anthology I'm sure I'd have enjoyed it more- it simply doesn't warrant its own publication and in the end the only person to be applauded here is the artist Nate Taylor who has created something out of very little with dozens of delightfully descriptive and humorous illustrations. His obvious effort puts his famous co-contributor, whose name is most prominent on the cover, to shame.
Whether the author, or more likely, his publishers are responsible for the publication of this story, they should both take note that fans do not like to feel cheated. Patrick Rothfuss, on the evidence of the `The Name of the Wind' at least, is so much better than this dismal effort and if he wants to build and maintain a loyal fan base he needs to reward them with stories of far greater quality.