Welcome to the "Judging By Its Cover" review series: which is when I pick a book at the library based solely on the enticings of its cover...
Written by Tania del Rio, illustrated by Will Staehle
My rating: ★★★
Publisher: Quirk Books
Date of publication: November 24, 2015
Age: Grades 4 - 6
Genre: Mysteriously Spooky Steampunk Fantasy Graphic Novel (Okay, we'll go with Mystery)
Themes: orphan, hotel, witchcraft, family relationships, heritage
Meet Warren the 13th. He's the lone bellhop, valet, groundskeeper, and errand boy of his family's ancient hotel. It's a strange, shadowy mansion full of crooked corridors and mysterious riddles—and it just might be home to a magical treasure known as the All-Seeing Eye. But if Warren is going to find the hidden treasure, he'll need to solve several other mysteries first: What is the strange creature lurking in the hotel boiler room? Who is the ghostly girl creeping around the garden's hedge maze? And why is the hotel's only guest covered in bandages?
Yes, the illustrations of the cover caught my eye, so I checked out the book. And, boy oh boy, the rest of them did not disappoint! All of the illustrations were expertly rendered with utmost style and finesse. Staehle used his fantastic designs to carry the creepy Victorian theme by using a monochromatic scheme (red) in a wood-engraved-style with classic typography. Basically, the illustrations are why I liked the book.
As for the actual story, however...well, it left a bit to be desired. Probably because the illustrations set the bar so high. It was fine. That's about it. The characters were sub-developed, cliche, and cute; the plot a bit twisted and broken, with odd little jumps and sudden discoveries. It was just okay. (After reading more about the creation of the book, and the fact that Warren is Staehle's brainchild, it feels like del Rio wasn't quite as invested in the story as Staehle. But that's just my observation.)
So will I read any sequels? To be honest, I won't read them so much as look at all the pictures. Still, the simplistic story might be good to recommend to kids who love Tim Burton, Neil Gaiman, The Series of Unfortunate Events or other such spooky tales. And I'd definitely show the illustrations off to people of all ages. See them for yourself!
Find it at your library or on Amazon
- Storytime Ideas
- School-Age Programs
- Book Reviews
- Reading Level ▶
- Genre ▶
- Rating ▶
- Book Lists
- Other Resources
- Fun Stuffs