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Review: Amulet #5: Prince of the Elves by Kazu Kibuishi

Kazu Kibuishi’s thrilling, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling series continues!

Emily has survived the chaos of the Guardian Academy, but Max Griffin, who is working for the Elf King, has escaped with the Mother Stone. The Elf King has now forged new amulets, which will allow him the ability to invade Cielis and destroy it once and for all. Emily and her friends desperately make preparations to defend Cielis in what will inevitably be a brutal war, and they can only hope that it will be enough to defeat the Elf King.

Confession time: I love this series. Not because it’s book-crack for middle schoolers, or because it’s so easy to read, but because this is truly a fantastic series. Kazu Kibuishi, author, artist and coordinator of the amazing “Flight” series, created this tale of a sister and brother pair who are brought, with their mother, to live in their grandfather’s old home. All is not as it seems, however, as they are drawn into a parallel world where Emily  becomes a Stonekeeper, her brother Navin becomes a crack pilot and their mother is kidnapped and poisoned. Along the way they encounter the lost city of Cielis, the mysterious Elf King, his son Trellis and the enigmatic Leon Redbeard who may lead them to safety – or to their doom. Emily has endured a Hunger-Games style initiation into hte Stonekeepers, and Nevin has developed friendships with robots and dragons. This, then, has been the tale for the first four books in the series.

This fifth installment gives a little more back story to the legend, filling us in on Max, who escaped with the Mother Stone at the end of book four, and fills in a bit of the history of Leon Redbeard and Trellis. We discover that there is much more to Max than simply being a pawn of the Elf King; he has known great loss and sorrow, and is consumed by revenge. There’s also a bit of time travel via memory and some amazingly beautiful battle scenes, and we learn more about the voice of the Amulet itself. The series has become progressively darker as it has developed, and this segment is no exception. I wouldn’t recommend this for anything below Grade 5 at this point; the story is starting to take a dark turn (much like the Harry Potter series) and could use a little parent explanation at times.

As with each edition, the artistry in these books is truly astounding. Kibuishi is a brilliant artist, and he is able to draw in the young and more mature reader with his stunning illustrations and complicated storylines. I’m not a huge graphic novel affectionado by any stretch, but I have family members who are, and they agree that the quality of the story makes this a wonderful read. As a non-graphic novel person, I’m also in awe of Kibuishi’s ability to create such wonderful characters; they behave in realistic ways. No one is as they were at the start of the series; they have been deeply affected by what they have endured, and it has changed them. I admire authors who allow their characters to grow, and Emily and Nevin are certainly more mature and sober than they were in the first book.  No character is what they seem; the children have strengths they have yet to tap, while the adults hide secrets of their own, making them interesting and intriguing.

This is a bridge book; while you can read it without having had any exposure to the previous volumes, why would you want to do so? The joy in this series lies in the layering of the story, so by all means, seek out these incredible graphic novels and enjoy … and make sure to invite along your favourite middle schooler for the ride.

Amulet 5: Prince of the Elves was made available to me via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It will be available from Graphix at your fine local bookstores, including Indigo, Amazon and your friendly independent, as well as via Scholastic

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