Review: Umberland by Wendy Spinale

Umberland by Wendy SpinaleUmberland
Wendy Spinale
Scholastic Press
Published on May 9, 2017

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About Umberland
They’re dreadfully fond of beheading people here…

Gwen, Pete, and the others have escaped from Everland. Except the safe haven they hoped to find at Alnwick Castle doesn’t exist. With the Queen of England on her deathbed, Duchess Alyssa has stepped in, but things have gotten worse as the cure Doc created for the Horologia virus has mutated into something even more deadly. The only possible solution he can think of is to go back to the virus’s origin: an extinct poisonous apple.

Legend has it, though, that a tree bearing the apple might be found at the center of an impossible labyrinth hidden deep within Germany. A place no one in their right mind enters. With no other options, Alyssa sets out with only her sword, her wits, and the help of Maddox Hadder, a wild boy who oversees the castle gardens. To get to the center of the maze, she’ll be forced to battle monsters more terrifying than her darkest nightmares.

But can anyone truly survive the madness of the maze? And what if there’s no apple to be found there?

My Review
I’m loving this series so far. I think I was pretty primed to like Maddox Hadder – something about that whole dark and misunderstood boy with a terribly tragic past tends to be irresistible to me – and I really did like him a lot. I think I expected there to be more of a sort of madness about him though? I think that was the only thing I felt was missing about Umberland. The Labrynth was a scary place for sure, but apart from a specific scene, there really wasn’t much of a madness element to it. I think I wanted more of that Wonderland flavor.

Even without that, though, I liked the new characters introduced in the story. And I liked that it carries forward the stories of Jack and Hook as well as Gwen and the Lost Boys. Cat, the heir to the English throne and sort of Cheshire Cat type of character, added a lot of depth to the story with her own plot to save Umberland through a very dangerous alliance.

I think Everland is still my favorite of these two books, but I enjoyed this one a lot, too. The story in Umberland didn’t feel like quite as much of a retelling of Alice in Wonderland as Everland did of Peter Pan. Lots of things were different. And there were also some Snow White-like elements mixed in with the poison apple and wicked queen. All in all, though, I’m glad I read it, and this seems like a fun series for readers looking for dystopian or fairytale mashups.

Umberland on AmazonRecommended for Ages 12 up.

Cultural Elements
Major characters are white. Lily is Indian.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
None.

Romance/Sexual Content
Brief kissing between boy and girl.

Spiritual Content
None.

Violent Content
Some situations of peril. Lizard -like people attack the castle where Pete and the others have taken shelter. A gunshot kills one boy. Alyssa and Maddox fight a huge machine.

Drug Content
Maddox and Cat host huge, indulgent parties each night in their garden. Guests with advanced-stage disease consume drugs and alcohol and end their lives at the close of the party. Maddox makes some vague references to sampling opium tea in the past.

Umberland on Goodreads

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About Kasey Giard

Kasey is a mother, reader and aspiring author. When she's not reading or writing, you might find her out on the water fly fishing, pretending she can keep houseplants alive, or talking with the family rescue cat.

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