The Charlie Bone series has been one of my favourite kids series over the past couple of years. There are moments where I swear I like it better than Harry Potter. It's gentler and it is something you can sit down and relax in. Like the photographs Charlie can enter and travel through, you melt into the world of the characters, of Bloor Academy, of Paton ( my favourite) the Light booster and Julia Ingledew's medievalesque bookshop.
Although many of the secretive elements and mysteries of the story are not so cleverly cloaked ( you know by the end of the first book the identity of Charlie's missing father ), it is not the surprise, yet the journey to Charlie's discovery that makes the Children of the Red King books such a delight .
I knew when we reached the fifth ( and according to Jenny Nimmo the last ), all slightly dangling threads would have to be tied neatly up. In the basest sense, the Hidden King leaves you with that satisfaction. However, I would have liked a little more "meat" at the end, so to speak, when the conclusion and it's Happily-ever-after are presented. I would have liked a little more after the discovery and the climax. Just some time to sit happily and watch reunions. Further, since I find Charlie's uncle Paton the most interesting character in the series, I would have enjoyed his reunion with Lyell Bone and subsequently his engagement (?) to Julia Ingledew. On that note, I could have done with more information on Benjamin Brown and how his story turned out, the same for Olivia Vertigo and even Billy, the small albino kid who can talk to animals.
Nimmo tied the plot up enough that a smile spread across my face but I still found it skeletal. She could have fleshed things out a little more for me.
Nonetheless, this Quintet ( especially its finale ) have been worth the four year span. I sell them far more than most Children's books at the store and forever have customers return enchanted.
Farewell Charlie Bone, sensitive boy who can travel into pictures and roam around. I am sure I will revisit you on many occasions.
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