Charlie Bone and the Beast
(Children of the Red King, Book Six)
by Jenny Nimmo
One of the few series of books I buy without waiting for the paperback edition is the Children of the Red King series, for the simple reason that they dont seem likely ever to come out in paperback at least until the whole series is published. This is already Book 6 of the series, and the first five are still in hardcover. Seeing that my love of buying books exceeds my financial resources, I hope this isnt going to become one of those growing trends.
At the end of Charlie Bone and the Hidden King, I was prepared for the possibility that the series would end there. Now it looks like it could go on for a while longer. Author Nimmo, who is English by birth and Welsh by marriage, doesnt seem to be in a hurry to leave behind her strange, unnamed kingdom that seems to be somewhere between England and Wales. It is a kingdom where many descendants from the semi-mythical Red King are endowed with magical powers. But because of a schism between the Red Kings ten children, those same descendants remain divided between good and evil, between using their powers to help people and using them to control people.
Charlie Bone is the epitome of the type who want to help people, and he has gotten very good at it. His power has grown, and Im not just speaking of his endowment (which is the ability to travel into pictures and speak with the people in them), but also and especially of his influence over the balance between good and evil, his ability to get things done through cooperation with others, and his effectiveness at saving people with the help of his friends.
Like Harry Potter, Charlie goes to a school where some emphasis is put on the training of the endowed. Unlike Harrys story, Charlies unfolds at a slower pace than one book per year. I believe that, as of this sixth book, Charlie is still in his third year at Bloors Academy, which is run by a family of villains who are increasingly determined to destroy Charlie, because he increasingly threatens their plans. In this they have considerable help from members of Charlies family, including his Grandma Bone and her three evil sisters, one of whom is Matron at Bloors (the American equivalent would be dorm mother).
But now the balance has swung a bit in Charlies favor. He has found his long-missing father and freed him from the Bloors mental enslavement. He has won over another endowed student to his side Asa Pike, his erstwhile enemy, who turns into a hairy beast at night. And he has contacts with more than one child who has kept her endowment secret from the Bloors. So what do the Bloors do to fight back? They make a deal with an evil man who has power over the sea, asking Lord Grimwald to drown Charlies parents while they are on a second-honeymoon cruise. They set Lord Grimwalds son, a drowner named Dagbert Endless, the task of isolating Charlie from his friends and, if possible, destroying him. And they have Asa cooped up somewhere, with a plan to bring him back over to their side.
Charlie is up against all this and more in this book. He is cornered by a deadly trio of endowed children. He is menaced by stone figures that walk and kill on command. One of his most critical allies loses his power, and two others are distracted by their sudden discovery of girls. He is torn between hoping that a mysterious Red Knight may be the Red King himself, and fearing that it may be an impostor planning to obtain a fearsome weapon. And the secret the Bloors dont want him to know is beginning to take shape behind it all.
Like all the other Charlie Bone stories, and even more than some of them, this book full of strange revelations, weird patterns, complex cross-agendas, and colorful characters leaves you hoping and expecting for even bigger thrills to come.
Recommended Age: 12+
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