The Robe of Skulls, Vivian French

Mm, I hated the troll sidekick.  I hated him.  The evil sorceress lady Lamorna (only she’s not that evil – good for her to get the robe at the end despite her wicked ways!) is totally justified in smacking his head off.  I would smack his stupid head off too.  He spoiled every scene he was in.  The Robe of Skulls is all about Lady Lamorna trying to raise enough money to make a robe all out of skulls.  With spiders.  She’s thrilled about the whole idea, but she doesn’t have enough money, and so concocts a scheme to raise money by turning all the local princes into frogs and demanding ransom from the parents to change them back.  Meanwhile a lovely girl called Gracie is trying to get away from her wicked stepsister Foyce, who teams up with Lady Lamorna and wreaks all kinds of havoc because she is evil.

All through the book I found myself thinking that it would be much more fun to read aloud to little kids than it was to read to myself.  I would have enjoyed doing all the voices.  Just reading it to myself, though, I was ready to be done with it – and I could see where it was heading without even bothering to read the end – well before it was over.  Maybe because it’s a book for younger readers, it was just incredibly straightforward – maybe too much so.  Nothing unexpected happened – I thought the world of the book had lots of fun possibilities, and so few of them were explored.  Still, it’s a rather nice little book for younger kids, I enjoyed the characters, and I was pleased Lady Lamorna got her dress.  If only Gubble had been killed.

(We used to have a computer game called Gubble that my sister and I were addicted to.  You had to use different tools to collect all the nails, screws, bolts, etc., and avoid the monsters – I don’t remember what the monsters were, but you couldn’t kill them, you could only run from them.  I became fairly good at it, but it was the free version, so I never got to try my luck at higher levels.  The Robe of Skulls has made me totally nostalgic for that game.)

Other reviews (tell me if I missed yours!): Darla D at Books and Other Thoughts, Adventures in Reading, Charlotte’s Library, And Another Book Read, Presenting Lenore, Back to Books, Kiss the Book