The Dragon Whistler

The Dragon Whistler
Now available in paperback.

6.21.2009

Alex and the Ironic Gentleman by Adrienne Kress

I stumbled upon the audio version of Alex and the Ironic Gentleman (Weinstein Books, 2007) which is read gloriously by Christopher Lane, btw. I am a couple of years late coming upon it (its sequel, Alex and the Wigpowder Treasure came out last year, so it obviously did well at the bookstore).

[update: Adrienne Kress let me know that this title is actually the UK title for Alex and the Ironic Gentleman and that the sequel is Timothy and the Dragon's Gate, which is out now, see below. Thanks for the clarification, Adrienne and I apologize for the confusion!]

There is a great deal of good to say about this story. For one, Adrienne Kress has a magnificent, snarky storytelling voice, and she unfolds the tale with a sarcasm and wit I thoroughly enjoyed.
The first few chapters hooked me immediately -- tomboy Alex Morningside is a great character, and I love it when the main character in an adventure story is a girl.

Typically orphaned, 10 year old Alex lives with her uncle and before long, her beloved sixth grade teacher, Mr. Underwood, ends up moving in with them as well. Turns out, Underwood happens to be the descendant of a famous pirate, and only living heir, to a lost treasure.

So begins Alex's involvement in helping Mr. Underwood find the missing treasure map, and subsequent treasure. That is, until Alex's uncle is murdered by another band of pirates (led by the dreaded Captain Steele who is also trying to get the treasure). And, as if that wasn't bad enough, the beloved Mr. Underwood is taken prisoner.

And here's where the train jumped the tracks a bit for me (lucky, it re-railed itself near the end). As Alex heads off, determined to rescue Mr. Underwood, the story veers off in odd directions, like David Lynch at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party. She has one odd encounter after another, with quirky characters who do bizarre things.

Alex boards a train that travels for hours but never gets anywhere, but carries an ever-shrinking group of people who seem to be living the same party over and over. And don't even ask what's in their champagne glasses. When she finally escapes that scene, she discovers a hotel deep in the woods, complete with talking appliances. This journey to save Mr. Underwood is packed with an offbeat oddness that I eventually warmed to, but at first found unsettling.

That said, I found myself re-hooked throughout the last quarter of the book, right up until the Last Chapter, "in which all the strings are tied up". The sequel, Timothy and the Dragon's Gate (2009, Weinstein Books) will be making my to-be-read list. Seriously, a combination of dragons and Kress' writing style has got to be good.

Listed for 10 and up. I agree, maybe even older for the more sensitive reader.

3 1/2 bookmarks, leaning toward 4. If you've read this book, what did YOU think about it?

5 comments:

Adrienne said...

Hey Kimberly!

I was google alerted to your review and I just wanted to say thanks so much for all your kind words! They are all immensely flattering, and I really do appreciate you taking the time to write such a thorough review (I am a reviewer myself, and I think people tend to overlook how tricky they in themselves are to write).

I wanted to make one small clarification, however, I hope you don't mind. "Alex and the Wigpowder Treasure" is actually the UK title of "Alex and the Ironic Gentleman". The sequel is called "Timothy and the Dragon's Gate" - which is a bit confusing I can understand. "Timothy" starts out about a boy and his adventure, but then halfway through he comes across Alex and the end of her adventure. So it's as if both their adventures are happening at the same time and then merge.

Anyway. . . thank you so much again, and I look forward to reading some of your other reviews (of other books obviously, not just mine, lol)!

all best,
Adrienne

Kimberly J. Smith said...

Thanks for the clarification, Adrienne! I didn't dig deep enough past that listing I guess! I'll update the blog to reflect that. Timothy sounds great -- definitely will check it out.

If you'd be interested in doing an author interview for the blog, I'd love to have you! Let me know and I can send you some questions. You can reach me directly at kimberlysmith1@mac.com.

Thanks so much for the comment!

Kim

Kimberly J. Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jon m. said...

Cool, thanks for the review. I'm new to this blog (obviously), and I found it by googling "Simon Bloom". It's one of my favorite books. Did you know that Universal is considering making it into a movie? I'm really excited... btw, awesome blog!

Kimberly J. Smith said...

Thanks for the nice comment, Jon! Michael Reisman has mentioned the book was optioned and I think it would make a GREAT movie!

Have you read the new Simon Bloom: The Octopus Effect? If so, and you'd be interested, I'd love to have you as a guest reviewer! You can email me at kimberlyjsmith1@mac.com if so...

Thanks for subscribing!

Kimberly J. Smith