Book Review: The Crooked Sixpence

Posted February 14, 2017 by Kara in book review, Kara / 6 Comments

Book Review: The Crooked SixpenceThe Crooked Sixpence by Jennifer Bell
Series: The Uncommoners #1
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers on January 31st 2017
Genres: middle grade, fantasy
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon

For fans of the Apothecary series and "The Doldrums" comes the first in a fantasy trilogy where a city beneath London hides objects endowed with magical powers!
When officers brandishing toilet brushes arrive at their door, eleven-year-old Ivy Sparrow and her older brother, Seb, go tumbling into Lundinor, a secret underground city. The siblings find themselves in a world of enchantment, where uncommon people, alive and dead, trade in uncommon goods belts that enable the wearer to fly, yo-yos that turn into weapons, buttons with curative properties, and other enchanted objects capable of extraordinary feats.
But the charm wears thin when Ivy and Seb learn that their family is connected to one of the greatest uncommon treasures of all time and if they don t find it, their parents lives are forfeit. It s a race against time as Ivy and Seb attempt to unearth the treasure and rescue their parents.
Debut novelist Jennifer Bell delivers a world of wonder and whimsy in the start of a richly uncommon series. "Bell's world is part Tim Burton, part J.K. Rowling, infusing everyday objects with new life...This is a terrific debut, perfect for kids who can't keep up with their own imaginations." Soman Chainani, Author of the School for Good and Evil series"

Can we stop comparing every middle grade book to Harry Potter? Can we stop comparing every young adult book to Twilight or The Hunger Games? Cuz that would be great. The Goodreads book page for The Crooked Sixpence is littered with negative reviews and one star ratings comparing this book to Harry Potter. I suspect most of them are sock puppets, but even so, why do people do this? Because a book shares a few tropes, reviews accuse the author of plagiarism, when really, the book is nothing like Harry Potter. Reviewers that do this are dishonest to their readers, and frankly, they should be ashamed.

But back to THIS book because it should be about that. The Crooked Sixpence is a wonderful tale with vivid characters and inventive world-building that I really enjoyed. Ivy and Seb discover a secret underground world that has been hidden from them for years since their grandmother got in a car accident and lost her memory.

In the present, Granma Silvie has another accident, this one at home, and she is rushed to the hospital. She’s okay, but her home is ransacked, and Ivy and Seb have to flee for their lives. They travel through a suitcase and arrive in this peculiar world. They find out that their parents have been kidnapped, and the only way to free them is to find this uncommon object (called The Great Uncommon Good) that the kidnappers are searching for.

This wasn’t a completely perfect book for me, because I wasn’t as invested in it as I wanted to be, but it was still a fantastic story and an escape into a world that I wouldn’t mind visiting myself someday. I think it was missing some emotion, but that’s a hard thing to inject into a story as a first-time author, and it can come with more experience.

The Crooked Sixpence doesn’t bring anything new to middle grade, as it’s about kids saving the world, but it’s  unique adventure with some interesting mythology, and I can’t wait to see what the author has in store for the next book.

6 responses to “Book Review: The Crooked Sixpence

  1. I agree. I think marketers use their comparisons a bit too liberally, especially when it’s concerning a major title like Harry Potter, Hunger Games, or Twilight. It puts too much pressure on a new book, plus it might not be entirely accurate. :-/

    This does sound interesting though and I’ve been thinking about looking for some new middle grade books to get into. YA can be a bit heavy sometimes, you know? Thanks for the great review!
    Heather recently posted…Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Non-Written NovelsMy Profile

    • YUPPPPP. Aside from a few small things, this book was nothing like HP. And now the book page on GR is littered with abuse. Also, yvw!

  2. I did think that this took some of the fun ELEMENTS of Harry Potter (food, alternate world, etc.) and introduced them in a completely new way. I especially liked the house that only the family could find. I do have a lot of students who ask for books “just like HP”, and that’s probably why the marketing embraces that comparison. But you’re right… it’s not very helpful.
    Ms. Yingling recently posted…Slappy Birthday To YouMy Profile

    • That’s a really great point. I don’t think it’s such a problem when readers do it, as I do it in my head all the time. Sometimes I’m in the mood to read a middle grade novel that’s similar to HP without picking up HP again because how many times can I actually reread those? I think it’s unhelpful when marketing does it though because unless a book really is worthy of that comparison, I don’t think it’s helpful to either series, or consumers. This book was a lot of fun, but HP is super special to me and for a book to get that comparison, well, it has to be close to legendary and this author might get there someday, but not quite yet.

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