Warren the 13th and the Whispering Woods by Tania del Rio and Will Staehle

Warren the 13th and the Whispering Woods

Information

Goodreads: Warren the 13th and the Whispering Woods
Series: Warren the 13th #2
Source: Quirk Books for Review
Published: March 21, 2017

Official Summary

This sequel to Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye begins soon after the first book’s conclusion.Twelve-year-old Warren has learned that his beloved hotel can walk, and now it’s ferrying guests around the countryside, transporting tourists to strange and foreign destinations. But when an unexpected detour brings everyone into the dark and sinister Malwoods, Warren finds himself separated from his hotel and his friends and racing after them on foot through a forest teeming with witches, snakes, talking trees, and mind-boggling riddles. Once again, you can expect stunning illustrations and gorgeous design from Will Staehle on every page along with plenty of nonstop action and adventure!

Review

I immensely enjoyed the first book in this series, Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye, and I was excited to join back up with the characters for another adventure in this sequel.

I am not among the alarmists who believe that print books will cease to be produced, but in an age where e-books and digital materials continue to grow in popularity, I’ve been thinking a lot about what would persuade people to buy a print book rather an e-version.  The Warren the 13th series is one answer to that question for me.  The books are not only about the story, but about the design, from the feel of the book in your hands (square! with a great heft to it) to the way the pages are laid out.  These book are ones you’ll want to take off the shelf and flip through, if not to reread, at least to look at.  They’re beautiful, and the design adds to the experience.

In this installment, Warren and company get stuck in the formidable Malwoods–home of some the world’s most powerful and frightening witches.  I really liked that the witch theme continued in this book, even as some new magical elements and creatures were introduced.  The book has the right balance of continuity and novelty.  Similarly, readers get to see all their old favorite characters, and a couple new ones are added to the mix, which I think may be a theme as the series continues.

The plot is fun and has a delightful number of surprises.  I was kept guessing about what was going to happen next.  While I generally expect the protagonists of middle grade novels to win, I like when I can’t quite figure out how they will achieve it.  As with the first book, I think this one does have space to be a bit more interactive for the readers than it is, but there are a couple riddles and one quick code that Warren has to figure out  as he journeys to save his beloved hotel.

This series is fun, unique, and beautifully illustrated.  I look forward to reading the next adventure Warren takes on.

4 stars Briana

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Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye by Tania Del Rio & Will Staehle

Warren the 13th

Information

Goodreads: Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye
Series: Warren the 13th #1
Source: Quirk Books
Published: November 2015

Official Summary

Warren the 13th is the lone bellhop, valet, waiter, 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 object known as the All-Seeing Eye. Can Warren decipher the clues and find the treasure before his sinister Aunt Annaconda (and a slew of greedy hotel guests) beats him to it?

This middle-grade adventure features gorgeous two-color illustrations on every page and a lavish two-column Victorian design that will pull young readers into a spooky and delightful mystery.

Review

Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye is a creatively creepy middle grade novel that invites readers into the mysterious Warren Hotel–a business that once was prosperous but seems to have traded customers for monsters and ghosts.  Captivating red and black artwork draws readers into the story and invites them to help solve the story’s mysterious: Who is the silent, bandaged-wrapped guest? What’s lurking in the boiler room?  And what is the legendary All-Seeing Eye?

The book does imply several tropes common to middle grade novels: an evil stepmother aunt who makes Warren complete ridiculous chores,  a kindly chef who sneaks Warren treat, and other such characters. However, the story puts just enough twist on the tropes to make them seem interesting and new.  There’s also the fact that Warren the 13th is not a stereotypical protagonist–described as toad-like and hunched and perhaps liable to be mistaken for a monster himself. (Except that he has glamorous hair.)

The mysteries are not really interactive, which I was somewhat expecting based on the artistic nature of the novel and the jacket copy. Middle grade books with actual solvable puzzles and such are becoming a trend (and one I like).  However,  the story does provide readers with enough clues to solve the mysteries as Warren does, which is great.  There’s nothing worse than a mystery the reader isn’t given enough information to figure out, in my opinion.  The ending was also genuinely surprising to me, despite some foreshadowing.

Overall, Warren the 13th is just fun.  It has a creepy vibe, but it’s often more quirky than scary, particularly since many things are not what they initially seen.  It’s also a really beautiful. Even the trim size is unique, since the book is square.  I loved reading this and would love to continue on with the series to share in Warren’s and his friend’s adventures.

4 stars

Bonus Story

Warren Friday the 13th

To celebrate Friday the 13th, Tania del Rio has written a bonus story about Warren that you can read free! Quirk Books has the story and activity book about Warren’s unlucky day available to download here.  Book #2 in the series, Warren the 13th and the Whispering Woods, will be out in March 2017.

Briana