Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Robe of Skulls

Gracie Gillypot's life is terrible. Living with her stepfather, Mange Undershaft and his daughter Foyce, is close to unbearable. Her existence is very Cinderella. After Mange locks her down in the cellar again for being cheerful while making water soup to feed the family, a bat swoops in and starts talking to her. He takes in Gracie's situation, and promises to return with something to eat, and an offer to improve her situation. When Gracie pours the bag that the bat gives her into the water soup something amazing happens. All of a sudden the kitchen is filled with the smell of rich and meaty stew. Chunks of beef and potato and onion appear. Mange eats greedily, and although Foyce is a bit cautious, she too partakes in this rare meal. Trueheart Stew, it's called. A powerful sleeping potion for some, and a delicious meal for the true of heart. Can you imagine who does not fall asleep?

Soon Gracie and her bat companion Marlon are on a quest. Mange and Foyce aren't the only baddies afoot. The sorceress Lady Lamorna, and her sidekick troll Grubble, are on the hunt for gold with which to pay the Ancient Crones who are constructing her new gown...her robe of skulls, which she ordered before realizing that her treasure chest was empty. She is off to turn princes into frogs for ransom. What she doesn't count on is the beautiful and sneaky Foyce hijacking her plans.

Vivian French has written an adventurous story chock full of action, magic, evil step-sisters, and even a bit of romance. The illustrations by Ross Collins compliment the story perfectly, and lend to the mood considerably.

This is a perfect book for the fans of the fractured fairytale, Roald Dahl, or tweens just beginning to indulge in the spooky! On the shelves in July!

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