Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye: A Novel, by Tania del Rio, illustrated by Will Staehle, (Quirk Books, Random House), 256 pages, release date 24 November, 2015
Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye is a feast of a book for young(er) readers. It pairs text and illustration throughout, in a way that almost makes it a graphic novel, though the text is as rich as in a novel-novel. Warren the 13th depicts a world comprised of a mix of the ordinary, the magical, and (to a lesser extent) the steampunk.
Warren, who is thirteen (well, almost), as well as being the 13th, is an orphaned heir to a once-grand hotel currently managed by an exceptionally lazy uncle and an aunt determined to pull all she can out of the property before it falls under Warren’s control. What Aunt Anaconda most wants is a mysterious object said to be hidden at the hotel: the All-Seeing Eye. No one knows what, exactly, the Eye is; Annaconda, a witch deprived of most of her powers, believes it will return her to full, malevolent magical strength.
Warren the 13th jumps from action scene to action scene, maintaining a pace that will keep young readers engaged. Its unusual juxtapositions of people and events, along with its unanticipated revelations keeps it feeling fresh throughout its 256 pages. The humorous illustrations work with, not instead of the plot.
If you’re looking for a gift for a child who isn’t quite ready for the density of the later Harry Potter books, Warren the 13th will provide delicious reading in the meantime.
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