My tween son grabbed the third installment of Kazu Kibuishi‘s inventive, adventurous series before I could even say ‘three,’ then lamented at the six months he would have to wait for Book Four, Book Four: “Do I really have to wait so long?” followed with “Can’t you get the galley thing sooner?” At least he’s learned a little something about the publishing process … which doesn’t make him any more patient when it comes to his favorite books. He actually keeps Amulet 1 and 2 to read over and over again in the back seat pocket of the car – the metro DC area has the second worst traffic in the country! – so he’s prepared for the too-frequent back-ups.
Book 3 opens with open betrayal. Prince Trellis, the evil, so-far unstoppable Elf King’s son, decides he’s “sick of hearing [his father's] voice,” and will obey him no more. His mysterious – and overly frightened – companion Luger is convinced that Trellis has sealed their death fate. Meanwhile, the Elf King hires infallible Gabilan the Assassin to hunt down the new Stonekeeper Emily and her unlikely crew, which includes her widowed mother, brother Navin, and a devoted brigade of robots and animals. If Gabilan has to kill Prince Trellis to get to Emily and company, so be it, the Elf King decrees. Someone obviously needs a parenting lesson or two!
The powerful Leon Redbeard, who has been training Emily thus far, knows that safety lies only in finding the legendary city of Cielis somewhere in the faraway clouds. Most are convinced that Cielis was destroyed in the last great battle between the Stonekeepers’ nation of Alledia and Gulfen, the nation of Elves, but Leon believes Emily’s great-grandfather Silas was just about to find it before he passed away. Using Silas’ notebooks as a guide – and hiring the unlikely Captain Enzo, his sidekick Rico, and their rickety small ship – Emily and her motley crew dare the impossible … next stop, Cielis or bust!
Creator Kibuishi cites anime great Hayao Miyazaki as “among his influences for Emily and Navin’s journey.” Indeed, anime aficionados will definitely recognize glimpses of Miyazaki’s Laputa: Castle in the Sky (although Laputa appears originally as a flying island in Jonathan Swift’s classic, Gulliver’s Travels), as well as reminders of Miyazaki’s Oscar-nominated Howl’s Moving Castle in the anthropomorphic house Emily must leave behind. Will Amulet‘s kiddie readers care much? Probably not … but while they’re waiting impatiently for that Book 4, Book 4 already (!), you could go hunt down a Miyazaki title or two to appease them for now …
Readers: Middle Grade