21 March 2013

Review: Amulet Book Two: The Stonekeeper's Curse by Kazu Kibuishi

Last December I raved about the first of Kazu Kibuishi's Amulet books, a graphic novel series for middle grade readers that, as I said in my review of The Stonekeeper, combines elements of fantasy, adventure, and steampunk. I had high hopes for Amulet Book Two: The Stonekeeper's Curse, and I'm happy to report that Kibuishi didn't let me down.

Although I will not spoil this installment in the series, I can't help but reveal a minor spoiler for the first book. If you want to remain completely in the dark, then you might want to skim or skip the first couple paragraphs.

When book one ends, Emily and her little brother, Navin, have one clear mission. With the help of their mechanical friends they must travel to the city of Kanalis and find a cure for their mother, who has been poisoned. Once at the hospital, the kids learn that the only way to save their mother is to climb a mountain and pick a magical fruit. Sounds simple, but there's a twist: no one who has gone searching for the fruit has ever been seen again.

Meanwhile, the evil elf king is on their trail. He wants to capture Emily so he can tap the power of the amulet she wears. He sends his son and his best warrior to bring him the girl . . . dead or alive. The king has covered all his bases, even ordering the warrior to kill the prince if the boy's rebellious tendencies get the better of him.

The Stonekeeper's Curse keeps young readers (and their parents) on the edge of their seats. Can Emily learn to control her powers? Will she find the fruit and figure out whom to trust? Will the elf king succeed in capturing the amulet? Can the elf prince find a way to escape his father's control? Kazu Kibuishi builds tension, works in tricky dilemmas, introduces new characters, and pumps up the action, nicely avoiding the sophomore slump of many series.

Young readers will love the animal creatures and the mechanical beings and will quickly become fans of Emily and Navin. Kibuishi's characters display a wonderful mix of strength and self-doubt, so no one comes off too good to be true. Although we're all sure Emily will prevail, the plot isn't simple or straightforward. Expect a few surprises as the children gain confidence and learn to believe in their own instincts.

As I mentioned in December, I just love Kibuishi's artwork. The colors in the Amulet books really call to me (check out the two scans; click the images to enlarge them) and it's easy to understand the characters' personalities by their facial expressions and body language. After I finished reading the story, I went back to the beginning so I could spend more time with the illustrations.

If you're looking for an action-packed fantasy with a steampunk bent, pick up the Amulet books. They are perfect for middle grade readers and their parents and make an excellent choice for book clubs. There are many topics to discuss, including family relationships, the nature of power, and the meaning of friendship. The kids face several ethical dilemmas, and these too could jump-start a discussion.

Buy Amulet Book Two: The Stonekeeper's Curse at an Indie or at bookstore near you. This link leads to an affiliate program.
Scholastic / Graphix, 2009
ISBN-13: 9780439846837
Rating: B+

Source: Bought (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).


Zibilee 3/21/13, 11:34 AM  

I haven't heard of this series, but from the look of the illustrations, and the way you describe it, it sounds like the perfect escapist read. I love graphic novels that can take you away like that, and I am so glad that this second book didn't disappoint.

Unknown 3/21/13, 2:54 PM  

My 10 year old son loves this series, and has even re-read some f the books! Fantastic illustrations!

Daryl 3/22/13, 8:02 AM  

another winner ...

Unknown 3/22/13, 10:47 AM  

Must have missed your review of the first book of this series, sounds like a fantastic read though and one I'll be certainly keeping an eye out for!

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