Saturday, December 16, 2017

Book Review - The Adventures of The Princess and Mr. Whiffle - Books One and Two

This post contains mini-reviews of two picture books written by Pat Rothfuss illustrated by Nate Taylor. They are in a series called "The Adventures of The Princess and Mr. Whiffle" and each book contains a disclaimer that these are NOT books for children and that the reader should consider him/her self warned.

The first book is titled "The Thing Beneath the Bed". In spite of the warning, it felt like it was just another fun/cute picture book with great illustrations and a seemingly sweet and simple story. The writing was simple and the narrative was light and easy going but as it progressed there was a hint of something foreboding just beyond the peripheral. The last few pages of the book teeter right on the edge of a light suspense/horror book and then rapidly jump out with a surprise ending.

This is a difficult book to properly categorize or rate. The book profusely claims to NOT be meant as a children's book. And yet it maintains near-saccharine level sweetness in 2/3 of the illustrations (or more) along with childish simplicity in the narrative and accessibility. The dark and mysterious nature of the book is held at bay until nearly the end and as such I felt like it resolved itself too quickly to be particularly troublesome for children. That said, I can definitely see that the nature of the suspense could be irksome to younger and more sensitive children. At the same time, it is too short lived to be particularly suspenseful or thrilling for most adults.

I enjoyed this book for what it is....a fun exercise in a new literary form from one of my favorite contemporary authors....a book filled with whimsically cute artwork drawn with just the slightest hint of "wrongness" to provide a sense of imbalance and unease.

Overall it was a quick fun read.

3 out of 5 stars

The second book, "The Dark of Deep Below", ups the ante by taking things to the next level. Like its predecessor, this book comes with a stark warning that it is NOT a book for children and in my opinion, the warning is a little more appropriate for this second outing than it was for the first.

Book two introduces a new key character and presents us with a much darker plotline. While the first book slowly built up suspense to a moment of a dramatic thrilling ending, this novel takes the readers on a curious adventure during which they are faced with a similar growing suspense to the first book but also with the fear of a moral/mortal terror based on events from the first book and characteristics of the main characters. Specifically, the readers are thrown into a frightening adventure and each page foreshadows tragic and horrific doom.

While the first book had developed the character of the princess, I saw her develop even more as she explored the Deep Below. I felt like I was figuring her out and understanding her motivations but the clever and detailed illustrations left me wondering at the conflict bubbling inside her. As the book neared its climax I anticipated a twist ending but found myself double guessing what it might be. The "obvious" twist ending felt too horrific even for a story touted "not for children" and yet I wasn't sure what other path was going to be presented for the tale. When the surprise twist revealed itself, I laughed out loud and applauded the writer for his clever and logical turn that fit so well within the story while still being unexpected.

As a fan of Rothfuss' writing I can recommend this as a fun read to other fans. I can also recommend this to fans of dark humor and light suspense. Beyond that it's difficult to give a blanket recommendation. I feel like some of my horror-movie loving siblings might enjoy it while other horror-movie loving friends might not. It's a tricky recommendation but a book that I had fun with and I'm interested to see if the adventures continue with another picture book (though I would rather have the conclusion to the Kingkiller Chronicles first *grin*)

4 out of 5 stars

View all of my reviews on

No comments: