Okay…I’ll admit that the first thing that drew me to this book was the beautiful B&W cover. Then, there’s the fact that this is a book geared toward a young (middle school reader) audience, and I like that. And it’s pretty clearly a fantasy. I like that, too!
But what’s inside this book is quite difficult to read.
I had tremendous trouble staying with and being engaged in the story. The three witch sisters and the evil Judge were cardboard stereotypes and the children were of a strange, unidentifiable age (they spoke and reasoned like young adults but were much younger in physical appearance).
The evil Judge creates a special school for gifted children, but in reality he is converting the students to Janjilons, dark, satyr/monkey-like creatures. He does this because as children the youths would be too clever and could stop his intended take-over of Westshire. But Judge Ormerod’s plans are in danger when snoopy Petronella wants to know what the Janjilons are.
I was bored at times and confused at times. Neither of these are good signs that young readers will be engaged. And the target age for this book is muddy. The characters act like elementary school children, think like high schoolers, and the story theme is classic middle grade. I also found it quite dark at times … dark enough that I felt the readers needed to be slightly older. The moment of transformation from child to Janjilon struck me as eerie as when the little boys turn in to donkeys in Pinocchio.
All in all, this is not a book I could recommend.
Looking for a good book? Petronella and the Janjilons is a very dark fairy tale that is aimed at middle school readers with above average reasoning but below average actions and dialog.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Petronella and the Janjilons
author: Cheryl Bentley
publisher: Sparkling Books Ltd
ebook, 144 pages