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About the Book
Title: The Prince’s Plight (The Balderdash Saga, Book 2) | Author: J.W. Zulauf | Illustrator: Luke Spooner | Publication Date: April 25, 2015 | Publisher: Evolved Publishing, LLC | Pages: 128 | Recommended Ages: 6 to 12 | Reviewed by: Renee (Mother)
Summary: Lower Grade Chapter Book, Fantasy, Fairytale, Horror (For Kids 6-10 Years Old)
After defeating Maleer, the people of Balderdash work to expand their kingdom by exploring the vast caverns in search of more graveyards. Although Hurlock and the shaman have adopted Kaylan, few in Balderdash trust the prince. Scarlet barely speaks to him, and Screech is the only one to show him affection. To escape the tension, Kaylan unofficially joins the Spelunkers, a group created by the shaman tasked with mapping the caverns.
On one of his excursions, Kaylan is startled to hear a woman’s scream. After locating the source, he watches from the shadows as two men chase her down, swords drawn.
Kaylan realizes with horror that humans stand merely an hour’s walk from Balderdash. He faces a critical decision. Should he run away to warn the rest of the underground kingdom about the human invaders in the caverns, or risk losing his life—and compromising the location of Balderdash—to save the woman?
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My Thoughts: When we last left the inhabitants of the charming underground kingdom, Balderdash, Princess Scarlet had found her true love in the loyal pirate knight Roland, the evil Maleer was defeated, King Hurlock was happily ruling his kingdom alongside the mystical shaman, and Prince Kaylan was welcomed into Balderdash as King Hurlock’s adopted son. Fast forward three years and we see that Balderdash is burgeoning with “life”. But despite the prosperity, peace, and happiness spread throughout the kingdom, Kaylan feels like an outsider.
One day, as Kaylan and Scarlet’s pet owl Screech are exploring the caverns surrounding the kingdom, they run across two thugs towering threateningly over a frightened young woman, all human and much too close to Balderdash for comfort. Contemplating rescuing the girl, Kaylan must make an important decision which may place the entire kingdom in danger. But an even greater danger presents itself when Kaylan goes above ground and encounters a familiar face intent on conquering the underworld.
Seeing as The Underground Princess was one of my favorites from last year, I was very excited to hear that Book 2, The Prince’s Plight was released. Much to my delight, the second book in The Balderdash Saga by J.W. Zulauf continues along the same vein as the first, featuring stellar writing, top-notch character development, and a twisting plot which cleverly ties in with the first book yet brings a new dimension to the story by introducing human characters.
Princess Scarlet, as we’ve seen, is the central character in The Underground Princess. In The Prince’s Plight, the story is told from the perspective of Prince Kaylan. According to an interview with the author at the back of the book, “it was Kaylan’s turn” and interestingly, Book 3 will be focused on the shaman (ooooh…. looking forward to that!) This is an interesting decision by the author and it reminds me of The Chronicles of Narnia where each book focuses on different characters, some of which overlap. While I did wish that Scarlet did appear a bit more in The Prince’s Plight it did not take away from the story contained within its pages. In fact, I would say that The Prince’s Plight contains enough back story that it could be read as a stand alone book.
I love the addition of human characters to the story and felt that it was time for the undead to cross the boundary to the land of the living. Lucia, the young woman threatened at the start of the book, was a wonderful character and I love how she accepted Kaylan, undead and all. New twists to the story were introduced when Kaylan encounters Lord Faron, who eerily resembles a young Maleer and makes a great villain in the story. The scene at the graveyard, ripped from the pages of Night of the Living Dead, provided a spectacular climax to the story and was definitely memorable.
As with The Underground Princess, The Prince’s Plight was illustrated by Luke Spooner. There is roughly one illustration per chapter and once again Spooner strikes the right balance between the macabre theme of the book with characters depicted as “undead” while keeping in mind the age of the target audience (6 to 10 years old). I can’t say it enough: children under the age of 13 still love and appreciate illustrations.
My Bottom Line: The Prince’s Plight is a unique, cleverly-written and well-woven fairy/horror tale. Zulauf has created an unconventional fantastical world where the heroes of the story live underground and grapple with many “human” issues such as love, loyalty, courage, and honor. I highly recommend this series to tweens who love reading books with a touch of the macabre. Ages 6 to 12. I give this book 5 bright and shining stars!
* This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an editorial review. All opinions expressed are my own and represent my honest thoughts about the book.
The Buzz About Book 1
“The Underground Princess is a fabulous and unique book that completely took me by surprise. It features exceptional writing, relatable characters, and a very clever plot with underlying messages about loyalty, courage, beauty, and love. I highly recommend this book to children ages 6 to 12 as a great read-aloud book or for those interested in reading something with a touch of macabre.” ~ Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviews
“‘The Underground Princess’ is a charming read! I found the writing itself to be superb, and the illustrations and overall quality of the book (I have the paperback edition) are first-rate!” ~ Dale E., Amazon
“I thought this was a great read! Never a dull moment and I loved the way the book flowed. It was very well written and I enjoyed the lucid writing technique. I felt like I could plug myself into the world that the book created.” ~ Victor R., Amazon
“As a parent you never want to see your child struggle with anything so to see and hear my daughter reading this story and enjoying it brought tears to my eyes. J.W Zulauf truly has a jewel on his hands. My daughter and I cannot wait to see what journey he will take us on next! Thank you Mr Zulauf for helping my daughter regain her Confidence back and develop a passion for reading.” ~ Queen, Amazon
“The Underground Princess takes place in a wonderfully crafted world and was enjoyable from cover to cover! Not only is the story itself a constant page-turner, the characters and setting they exist within are brought to life expertly! Young readers around the world need more publications like this – an enjoyable story that also covers topics most literature geared toward children would shy away from needlessly.” ~ Hunter, Amazon
About the Author: J.W. Zulauf
I would love to say that from the second I could use my fingers, I began to write, but I can’t. Sure there were times through my life when writing surfaced and fell away, but the truth is, I couldn’t even read all that well through most of my teens. Then one day, my father gave me a copy of The Stand by Stephen King, and even though it took me a year to finish, I did it.
This experience changed my life.
From that point, I strove to become the best reader and writer I could be. I was driven by an unbelievable passion to become a writer, and here I am. I truly started from the bottom and worked hard to become who I am now. Reading saved my life.
| | Goodreads
* Giveaway #1: Amazon *
Enter to win a copy of The Prince’s Plight by J.W. Zulauf by entering this AMAZON GIVEAWAY. Open to U.S. only. Ends May 4, 2015.
* Giveaway #2: Goodreads *
* Giveaway #3: Mother Daughter Book Reviews *
Grand Prize: One winner who will receive signed, print copies of The Underground Princess + The Prince’s Plight (print US; electronic copy for international winners) + a $25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash prize Second Prizes: Two winners will each receive signed, print copies of The Underground Princess + The Prince’s Plight (print US; electronic copy for international winners) Contest closes: May 13, 11:59 pm, 2015 Open to: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. The winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If a winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, J.W. Zulauf and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com. a Rafflecopter giveaway