A mad mix of attacks, chases, squabbles and revelations goose the main plot along while setting the stage nicely for the...

UNLUCKY CHARMS

From the Cold Cereal Saga series , Vol. 2

In this hectic middle volume, Rex’s notably diverse crew of human, part-human and nonhuman allies splits up in hopes of scotching the schemes of the sorceress Nimue, who is out to create a worldwide army of mind-controlled “sugar zombies” through magically enhanced breakfast cereal.

Rex fills in background as he goes, from doughty pixie Prince Fi’s search for his brothers Fee, Fo and Denzil to Merle Lynn’s exposé of his sword-in-the-stone trick (“It was magnets”). The action here takes place mostly in England, where the discovery of a portal to magical Pretannica allows separate missions to seek help from the queen of the Fay and to rescue the kidnapped queen of England, who has been imprisoned in what she thinks (with some justice) is a Harry Potter story. Meanwhile supergenius Emily, sasquatch ex-librarian Biggs and the others stay stateside to work on cryptic clues (what would a story like this be without cryptic clues?) and prevent Nimue from seizing the portal. Much of the frequent black-and-white art was not available for review, but those examples included exemplify Rex’s usual hilarity.

A mad mix of attacks, chases, squabbles and revelations goose the main plot along while setting the stage nicely for the closer. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-206005-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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THE EMPEROR OF NIHON-JA

From the Ranger's Apprentice series , Vol. 10

The 10th and final full-length episode in an alternate-Earth series that's just about reached its sell-by date unites the five members of the central cast in yet another rescue mission to a distant land. This time its a thinly disguised medieval Japan, where bluff young warrior Horace has been swept up in the entourage accompanying a kindly emperor who is on the run from a vicious usurper. Thanks to a sequence of massive coincidences, he is soon joined in a remote mountain fortress by Rangers Will (who graduated from "apprentice" about five volumes ago) and his crusty mentor Halt, plus temperamental Princess Evanlyn and her spunky frenemy Alyss. While the usurper and his forces obligingly winter nearby, the menfolk train a peasant army for the true emperor while Evanlyn and Alyss set out to recruit more allies and have an air-clearing heart-to-heart about who really loves whom. By the end battles are won, bad guys slain, feasts held and everyone heads home for weddings and further adventures. The "keep it simple" approach has served Flanagan—and readers who prefer predictable plots and easily recognizable settings and character types—well, but the formula has staled. "The Final Battle" blazoned on the cover indicates a recognition of this fact, though loose ends leave open the possibility of further, as-yet-unplanned developments. Here's hoping a break will restore zing to future adventures. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25500-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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A massive explosion at the end only sets that evil scheme back a bit; stay tuned for further strange and exhilarating...

COLD CEREAL

From the Cold Cereal Saga series , Vol. 1

A motley assortment of human experimental subjects and faerie exiles take on a New Jersey cereal company run by eldritch management for nefarious purposes.

With an off-the-wall sensibility that fans of the author’s True Meaning of Smekday (2007) will recognize with delight, Rex kicks off a planned trilogy. He brings together sixth-grade outsider Scottish Play Doe (an actor’s son, surprise), young genius Erno Utz and his even brighter supposed twin Emily, a crusty old leprechaun and like unconventional allies to be hunted by agents of the huge Goodco Cereal Company—producers of Burlap Crisp™, Honey Frosted Snox™. These and similar products enjoy a wild popularity that can be ascribed to the literal truth of the company motto: “There’s a Little Bit of Magic in Every Box!” The author tucks in portrait illustrations and hilariously odd TV-commercial storyboards, along with a hooded Secret Society, figures from Arthurian legend, magical spells and potions, a certain amount of violence, many wonderful throwaway lines (“Yeh may have a tarnished glamour about yeh, sure. Like a celebrity’s daughter.”) and tests of character with often surprising outcomes. All in all, it’s a mad scramble that culminates in the revelation of a dastardly plot that will require sequels to foil.

A massive explosion at the end only sets that evil scheme back a bit; stay tuned for further strange and exhilarating developments. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-206002-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

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