Goodreads: Long Live the Queen
Series: Magnificent Tales of Misadventure #2
Publication Date: January 2017
By holding her breath, twelve-year-old Elspeth can return to the land of New Winkieland where she recently overthrew the old ruler, met her biological parents, and left her favorite doll Farrah. Because in New Winkieland, everything is alive, even the sticks. Farrah now rules alongside Wee Willie Winkie as queen, but has been kidnapped. Can Elspeth and her friends save Queen Farrah in time?
Fairy tale retellings are very popular, but Gerry Swallow forges a new path with retellings of nursery rhymes. In the land of New Winkieland, Jack and Jill (who went up the hill) are Elspeth’s parents, Wee Willie Winkie rules as king, and the Cheese (who stood alone) is a police detective. Not only that, but everything is alive. One of Elspeth’s friends is Gene–a stick. With a premise this wild, surely the story must be good.
However, while the story is solid, the book ultimately lacks charm because few of the characters are very likeable. Elspeth is a little boring, mostly concerned with how much others rely on her, a child, to be a hero. The king lacks conviction, charisma, and strength. Many of the characters are simply annoying and constantly bickering. It is difficult to invest one’s self in any of their struggles when they can barely support each other.
And I have another gripe–the lack of real commentary on some issues with the major plot point (spoilers ahead.) To rescue the queen, the king and Co. decide to release the old tyrant in return for half of his hidden loot. They will use this to pay the ransom for the queen. Of course, there are problems with this. One can’t simply release a terrible villain upon the world in return for money. I don’t really care that the queen has been kidnapped. Surely the king ought to have people who can deal with this in a more intelligent matter. But the issues with this are contained in a single complaint from a villager–a complaint that the rules never apply to the rich. This is an excellent point, and one that should have gotten more play.
On the whole, the book is solid and I enjoyed it. It is a sequel but manages to stand on its own. Still, I don’t anticipate reading the first book anytime soon.