Book Review: Allen, King of Seattle
Reviewed by Joelene Pynnonen
A hilarious fantasy adventure with a lot of heart
When Slurfus (a pretori, not a squirrel) is sent to spy on the most dangerous witch in the Pacific Northwest, the last thing he expects is to set off a chain reaction that leads to the rise of a new king. Allen Borukhov of seventh grade is equally surprised to find that he is suddenly regent of all of Seattle. Surprised and disappointed, since all he ever wanted was to be normal, he finds himself responsible to make decisions for all the animals in the kingdom.
Now, he’s on a quest to see a pink elephant, resolve his issues with the school bully, and find the meaning of the amulet he found in the Curios shop. And if he doesn’t find a way to thwart his school principal, the witch, she’ll have a clear path to world domination.
Allen, King of Seattle is a genuinely fun, quirky adventure of a book. It’s one of those rare gems that has a little of everything. While on the surface it’s a hilarious adventure novel, it’s also a story about caring for those around you and seeing things from different perspectives. The scope of the story is vast. At first it seems like too much is going on, with Allen’s bully at school, his family’s past, his disruptive home life, an upcoming Bar Mitzvah and the problems caused by him becoming king. But Calev finds a way to reel it all in, making every part integral to the story.
The mis-steps are almost as important to this story as the steps. Allen doesn’t always get things right. In fact, for a solid half of the book, he manages to get a whole lot wrong. But when he starts trying to fix the issues he’s caused, the story begins to sparkle. Because the choices Allen makes aren’t the traditional ones, but they are the right ones.
The animal subjects in Allen, King of Seattle are hilarious and unexpected. I love the hidden Seattle that becomes Allen’s kingdom, the mice with their penchant for recreating movies, Slurfus and his constant eating, and the raccoon hustler. The antics Allen’s subjects get up to are almost as disruptive as the actions of his mortal enemies, and they make the novel about ten times as entertaining. Though, after reading this, you may never look at rabbits in the same way again.
The only gripes I have with the story are that some problems are resolved too quickly and I’m not entirely satisfied with how the antagonists are held accountable for their bad behavior.
Allen, King of Seattle is a clever, funny, thoughtful story masquerading as a simple adventure. Thoroughly enjoyable from top to tail. There’s so much potential for this novel to become a series. And, since I’m not quite ready to let Slurfus, the painting bears, the terrifying rabbits, and the skiing mice go, I kind of hope it does.
Genre: Middle Grade / Fantasy
Print Length: 206 pages
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