A sharp coming-of-age novel.
“The Queen, Elyse, knew her calling was to provide sparkle and dignity. Appearance was everything.” Though she never wanted the queenship, it is Reverence in Kladenplatz and Elyse certainly appreciates the importance of a good show. Garish festivities and merriment, along with a generous amount of zuzu, keeps the tedious villagers content and productive. Their hard work, the blessing of the Sorcerer worms, for those that believe in such things, and keeping the ogres happy preserve peace and order in the land. And this order keeps the Royals living in their elevated villa while the clans tirelessly work the fields, laboring in conditions they are powerless to change. As children of royalty, Rosetta and her brother Volney are destined to rule. But in a land dominated by superstitions and a lineage of manipulative matriarchs, Volney’s role as a male will be minimal unless he can convince Elyse or the Council of his value. Complicating matters is the spread of a lethal illness. Stone Disease is running rampant among the villagers, threatening to ravage the entire gnome population. But when the Gnome Council and the Queen constantly disagree on a course of action, nothing gets done in Kladenplatz and the problems multiply.
Potent political satire dressed in an imaginative fairy tale cloak, The Doll’s Eyes of Gnome is a sharp coming-of-age novel that demonstrates the innate correlation between our circumstances and the views they shape. Owens pairs playfulness with solemnity in this clever series, from the silly traditions of the common gnomes to the gravity of a serious illness. The perfect example in this volume is a crafty squirrel named Sebbel. Sebbel may be a feisty and funny companion for young Volney, but his wisdom and foresight define him. As power shifts in Kladenplatz, Volney faces some adult problems, including addiction and the realization that change isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Cynical and scathing, The Doll’s Eyes of Gnome works as both a dark fantasy novel and a cautionary tale against unmitigated government control, all while highlighting the power that deception can wield in times of crisis. — R.C. Gibson, Indies Today