The kingdom of Cornucopia was once the happiest in the world. It had plenty of gold, a king with the finest moustaches you could possibly imagine, and butchers, bakers and cheesemongers whose exquisite foods made a person dance with delight when they ate them.
Everything was perfect – except for the misty Marshlands to the north which, according to legend, were home to the monstrous Ickabog. Anyone sensible knew that the Ickabog was just a myth, to scare children into behaving. But the funny thing about myths is that sometimes they take on a life of their own.
Reviewed on 28th March 2021
J K Rowling's long talked-about political fairytale is exactly what it promises to be. This is the tale of a King, his unscrupulous advisors, and an array of good and bad people from around the kingdom - and of course the local monster.
The story and the characters are endearing, and I enjoyed following their advantures. The moral of the story is pretty in your face, but that's not a bad thing for a story aimed at younger children.
What gave me pause more was the structure. It's quite a long book made up of a lot of short chapters. As a book for reading to young listeners, or for readers in training, the short chapters make sense - but I worry that for these the overall picture has time to be forgotten as the tale progresses. As an adult reader, I found that the structure almost forced me into reading slowly, because after about three chapters I would feel like I'd read enough for a sitting, and I felt like I needed to stop otherwise I would forget what happened earlier in that session.
Overall though a perfectly acceptable, cute, moral tale for younger audiences.