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BookThe Robe of Skulls (Tales from the Five Kingdoms) by Vivian French

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Furnished by: LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers Program

On Sale Date: August 2008

Publisher’s Description: “High above the mountain village of Fracture, trouble is brewing. The sorceress Lady Lamorna wants a skull-studded gown of deep black velvet, but her treasure chest is empty of gold. That doesn’t stop her, however — from kidnapping, blackmailing, and using more than a little magic to get what she needs. Will her plans be foiled by the heroic Gracie Gillypot, two chatty bats, a gallant (if scruffy) prince, the wickedest stepsister ever, a troll with a grudge, and some very ancient crones? Humorously macabre and wickedly illustrated in black and white, The Robe of Skulls is truly a scream. Fire up your cauldron for an exuberant, fast-moving, wildly entertaining tale with a cast of characters who are good, bad, and very, very ugly.”

Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)

Review: The Robe of Skulls is the story of Gracie Gillypot, a Trueheart; her stepsister Foyce, an evil werewoman; power-hungry sorceress Lady Lamorna; her troll servant, Gubble; royal prince and adventure-seeker Marcus and their many other encounters. It’s very creepy-yet-cute in the same vein as The Nightmare Before Christmas, yet the writing style reminds me of early-era Disney stories such as Sleeping Beauty and Snow White.

This book is the first in the Five Kingdoms series, and I can’t wait for the next to come out. This book was an absolute joy to read. As a 23 year-old, I can say this is a wonderful read for children as it’s intended, but it also holds interest for adult readers. If I had a child, I would have loads of fun reading this with them — but I still really enjoyed reading it by myself, too. It was a real page-turner and I went through it in just a few days. The only part that irked me was the dialogue of Marlon the bat, calling everyone “babe” and “kiddo” all the time, which was a bit odd — but other than that, the book was perfect. I highly recommend this for children of all ages (even those of us who are just kids at heart).

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