The Pennymores and the Curse of the Invisible Quill

The Pennymores by Erik Koester is a bedtime story turned novel. In this middle grade you follow the Pennymores as they try to save their kingdom.

All quotes are from an advanced reader copy, and may or may not reflect the published edition.

From GoodReads:
When her brother vanishes in the night, along with all she thought to be true of magic, Parker Pennymore must unmask family secrets, travel far beyond the castle walls, and convince her sisters Quinn and Aven to break a few laws along the way – but what’s a hero’s journey without a little rebellion?

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Characters: 4 | Atmosphere: 7 | Writing: 6 | Plot: 6 | Intrigue: 7 | Logic: 5 | Enjoyment: 5
Total: 5.57 / 3 Stars

“Rebels and troublemakers don’t get themselves locked away in some tower prison until the end of time; they grow out their hair and climb out the window.”

I find this review a bit tricky to write. There were a lot of elements to this book that generally I would love, and when they stand on their own- I do love them. However, this book has so much going on that it starts to feel muddled. The plot gets somewhat lost, and there are so many named characters that don’t seem to be very different from one another. This causes you to mix up who is who, and forget why they’re on their journey in the first place.

“Rule #1: Every story must have a hero or a heroine… and if you don’t know who the hero is, it’s probably you.
Rule #2: Every story must teach us something.
Rule #3: Every story must make us feel complete. It doesn’t have to be a happy ending, but it must be complete”

The inclusion of explaining the Hero’s Journey and some of the writing elements that were included was kind of cool. I can see how kids in the intended age group would find them informational and easily be able to recall them later on. Unfortunately, the other good elements in this book get overshadowed by just how much there is to process and put together. I felt somewhat frustrated by constantly trying to remember who is who, where are they, and what are they doing there?

“Writing had been something to fear until it wasn’t. Magic had been forbidden until it protected the kingdom. Kidnapping had brought pain and chaos to her family until it was necessary to keep the peace. War brought death and destruction until it was used to keep another enemy away.”

I feel it could have used some editing to have somewhat less, or perhaps condensed down, content in order to adequately balance out the story. Unfortunately, I don’t think I could recommend this to most middle-grade children I know, as I think they’d feel overwhelmed by the tangents the plot tends to go on. It would cause most children to simply abandon reading it – something I even considered doing.

“It’s just another detour. I’ll make it work; the hero always overcomes the obstacle. This obstacle is more annoying than most, but it’s just another detour.”

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Read more reviews here.