The Tales from the Five Kingdoms - Book 1
by Vivian French / Illustrated by Ross Collins
Release date : June 2007
All is not well in the crumbling castle high above the mountain village of Fracture. The sorceress Lady Lamorna has her heart set on a new robe. A very expensive new robe. To get the cash she will stop at nothing, including kidnapping, blackmail and more than a little black magic. But she reckons without the heroic Gracie Gillypot, not to mention a gallant if rather scruffy prince, two chatty bats, the wickedest stepsister ever, a troll with a grudge – and some very Ancient crones. (taken from Walker Books' website)MY THOUGHTS : A fun and exuberant fairytale, that made me think of Tim Burton's tales more than once. I loved the peculiar and oh-so-british writing style. The characters are all fun, mad, manipulative, grotesque and unique : Marlon the talkative bat, the three Ancient Crones, stuck together for years and whose only occupation is to make weaving-looms work...
I really had fun reading that book and found the plot quite unpredictable. The illustrations fit, filled with humor and creepiness. Although all the "fairytales' cliches" are used (the poor girl rejected by her mean step-family, the bad witch, the fun allies), the tone used and the weird characters make the story lively, original and entertaining.
I would definitely recommend this book to parents and children, and I assume the sequels (THE BAG OF BONES and THE HEART OF GLASS) must be as fun.