Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye, by Tania Del Rio and Will Staele (2015)

Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing EyeMeet Warren, who lives in a hotel. He is the 13th Warren to be heir to the Warren Hotel, though his current role is as errand boy, bellhop, room-service valet, handyman and responsibility for pretty much any task that needs doing at the Warren Hotel. Truthfully, his job is mostly upkeep, or trying to keep it from falling down. Warren the 12th (his dad) died when Warren the 13th was just seven years old, too young to take the reins. His lazy Uncle Rupert took over, but things soon went downhill, and it’s been five years since the last guest left. Hence Warren’s astonishment when, as he is on the roof clearing the ravens’ nest from the chimney (again), he hears an automobile approaching. The car delivers a bizarre guest whose face is hidden behind bandage wraps, refuses any offer of help, and uses cards to speak. Warren doesn’t have time to ponder the mystery, however, as he is in a pitched battle with his evil Aunt Annaconda, who has bewitched Uncle Rupert into marriage. It turns out she is after the All-Seeing Eye, a treasure rumours say is hidden in the hotel – it’s all nonsense, of course. But when Warren discovers an ancestor’s journal, he realizes there may be some truth behind the story, and he has to find the answer before Annaconda does and ruins his family’s legacy. Delightful illustrations and intricate page design by Will Staele (who first dreamed up Warren’s character) provide added enjoyment for readers who will want to linger over the pages, including the chapter breaks with titles like “In Which Warren Encounters a Ghost.” This is an excellent choice for children and parents to read together at bedtime – not too scary for most kids, but with plenty of scope for dramatic storytelling and lots of cliff-hanger endings to keep readers clamouring to know what happens next. Warren is an unlikely hero with his “toadlike face, gray skin, cooked teeth” (p. 19), but readers will be captivated by his determination and deep principles. My thanks to the publisher for the advance reading copy, obtained via NetGalley.
More discussion and reviews of this novel: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25241871

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