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Warren the 13th and the Whispering Woods: A Novel

Review

Warren the 13th and the Whispering Woods: A Novel

WARREN THE 13TH AND THE WHISPERING WOODS is a perfect sequel chock full of adventure, beautiful illustrations and wacky characters. Middle grade readers will adore this series for its ease of reading and the fun world they will get swept up in. This installment finds Warren in a bit of a dilemma when his walking hotel takes a tumble, leaving him without any guests. But what he doesn’t know is that there is an evil witch, Calvina, looking to steal his hotel. With several different villainous characters after the hotel, it is up to Warren and his wacky staff to save the hotel.

"This series combines the strange tones and visuals of Tim Burton and Roald Dahl to create a fantastical yet funny and heartwarming story with a Victorian bellhop and a walking hotel all at the center of it."

Tania Del Rio has marvelously perfected this fantastical gang at the heart of this series. At the start of this novel, there is a reintroduction to all of Warren’s staff along with illustrations of them all. With characters like a Warren and Sketchy, the illustrations add so much to their characters. It really aids in developing them for both the story and the reader. These character introductions also make it very easy for readers for haven’t picked up the first novel to be able to read this one. Petulla and Beatrice especially shine in this novel with the witch plotline. While the first book was an origin story for Warren and his hotel, THE WHISPERING WOODS brings readers to new places.

One of the best parts of this series is the illustrations. Will Staehle’s artwork is incredible and totally heightens the reading experience. The characters truly come to life with the help of the illustrations. You get a true sense of the world Tania Del Rio has written through the illustrations. Every page has some visual that is interwoven with the text, which makes this story at times more closely related to a graphic novel. The two-column text brings an added layer of world building with the Victorian influence of the series. The text and illustrations, as well as the typography, make these book so much fun to read. The two-color illustrations of the first novel carry over to the sequel, but instead of red, it is green, which matches the cover. The green/black palette adds even more creepiness to the story, especially with the witches and the dark forest. The color combined with Staehle’s Victorian aesthetics really helps to build the world of the Warren the 13th series.

The Warren the 13th series is an amalgamation of different genres and tones. It feels like a Victorian fairy tale and features elements that will remind any reader of some of their favorite classic children’s stories. At the same time, this mixture of creatures, styles and magic makes this story entirely unique.

This series combines the strange tones and visuals of Tim Burton and Roald Dahl to create a fantastical yet funny and heartwarming story with a Victorian bellhop and a walking hotel all at the center of it. Young readers will be swept up by the adventures these characters have and the illustrations will make them not want to put this book down until they have finished.

Reviewed by Dana Cuadrado on March 27, 2017

Warren the 13th and the Whispering Woods: A Novel
by Tania Del Rio and Will Staehle