Release Date: November 24th, 2015
Synopsis: Meet Warren the 13th, a cursed 12-year-old Victorian bellhop who’s terribly unlucky…yet perpetually optimistic, hard-working, and curious. Orphan Warren’s pride and joy is his family’s hotel, but he’s been miserable ever since his evil Aunt Anaconda believes a mysterious treasure known as the All-Seeing Eye is hidden somewhere on the grounds, and she’ll do anything to find it. If Warren wants to preserve his family’s legacy, he’ll need to find the treasure first–if the hotel’s strange and wacky guests don’t beat him to it.
This is the type of book that successfully combines great storytelling with visually stunning illustrations. Warren is an appealing underdog that you can’t help but root for. He’s inherited his family’s hotel but is considered too young to run it. His Uncle Rupert is put in charge until Warren comes of age. A likeable enough schlub, he’s unfortunately lazy in the extreme and as a result has pretty much run the hotel into the ground. Because of his uncle’s ineptitude, Warren is forced to wear many hats. He’s the hotel’s carpenter, chimney sweep, bellhop, maid, and waiter. To make matters worse, four months previously Rupert married the odious woman who is now Warren’s “Aunt Anaconda”. She loathes children, particularly Warren who she banishes to the attic, and insists he needs nothing else to eat besides porridge. Anaconda is also obsessed with the legend of the All-Seeing Eye, and is systematically tearing apart the hotel looking for it. Hampering her efforts is that no one has ever seen this mysterious object, and so Anaconda is getting increasingly desperate. All that changes though when Warren stumbles across a journal written by one of his ancestors, which references the artifact. Now it’s a race not only between Warren and Anaconda to find the Eye, but also a multitude of unpleasant guests that have suddenly appeared and are also quite keen on finding it.
The plot moves briskly along, with the only downside being that when the mystery of the All-Seeing Eye is solved, it’s right at the end, and everything comes to a close a little too quickly. It’s still a satisfying conclusion though and the big reveal is one I didn’t see coming. The epilogue leaves little doubt that there will be further adventures featuring Warren and his friends.
Did I mention the illustrations in this book? They’re just as much a part of the story as the text. Just to give you an idea, here’s a few I found googling:
While you can view these on an e-reader, I think this is a book that will be much more appealing in print format.
Warren the 13th and The All-Seeing Eye is a perfect book to use in a classroom or a book discussion group. It’s a fun read which intentionally infuses it’s traditional storytelling with a sense of fun, over-the-top melodrama, and will appeal to fans of Roald Dahl, Neal Gaiman’s Coraline, and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. It will be interesting to see where Tania del Rio and Will Staehle takes the next book.