cover image Red King

Red King

Victor Kelleher. Dial Books, $14.95 (185pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-0758-0

The Red King rules the Forest Lands with an iron hand, unleashing a terrible plague when his subjects disobey him. Petie, a trickster, showman and thief, dreams of stealing the Red King's gold. Timkin, an acrobat and Petie's slave, dreams of destroying the Red King because he killed her parents. Kelleher's tale of Petie and Timkin's uneasy alliance and desperate quest is a violent, harrowing adventure story and a convoluted allegory of freedom and slavery. The Red King is filled with images of disease, deformity, destruction, bloodshed and senseless cruelty that may disturb some readers. While Petie and Timkin's experiences are highly suspenseful, the novel's allegorical aspects make Petie's behavior seem arbitrary and insufficiently motivated. Ages 11-up. (May)