Title: The Queen in the Cave
Author: Júlia Sardà
Illustrator: Júlia Sardà
Publisher: Walker Studio
Genre: Younger children’s fiction
Book format: Hardback
Description: Once upon a time, there were three sisters: Franca, Carmela and Tomasina.
This is a story of the adventure they take together to find a mysterious queen and the wonders and terrors and, oh, such marvellous creatures they meet all along the way.
And this is a story of discovery and how each sister unearths the strange, hidden secrets of the world beyond home … as well as the secrets inside themselves.
Adn what of this queen? Who is she? Well, let’s see….
*Free copy provided by publisher for review…
Review: I’m not really sure what to think after reading this book. ‘The Queen in the Cave’ is almost A4 in size with the hardback featuring some lovely embossing on the front and thick matt pages filled with very detailed and colourful illustrations and text. One night Franca has a strange dream, the next morning she feels like she must go to find the queen in her dream. She brings along her sisters Carmela and Tomasina for the adventure and as the three sisters set off, they encounter all sorts of strange and wonderful things.
This story is strange and reminds me of Alice in Wonderland with how strange the world around the sisters gets. When the three girls set off, the world beyond their house changes, the further and further they go the stranger the creatures they encounter. While the text doesn’t describe what they see, we are able to see the creatures and world through the lovely illustrations.
Each picture on each double page is simple a joy to look at. I love the illustration style which to me feels a little bit like folk art. It reminds me of that sort of style of art from other Eastern European countries and I can’t help but love how weird and interesting these pictures are. There are so many things to spot in each picture that may not be clear to see the first time you look at it. I love how so many details are not described and instead the world is brought to life purely through these beautiful visuals!
The story builds up with things going from strange, seeing larger than real life garden creatures like snails and toads, to the truly surreal as ants end up forming queues on the page that look like Ancient Egyptian wall paintings. Eventually we see when the three sisters arrive at the cave. I won’t say what actually happens as I don’t want to spoil it, but unfortunately for me, although this moment was interesting, the ending of the story was strange and just felt like it was missing something. There is a twist in the story and I do understand the twist and it’s pretty dark, but some might find it hard to even spot the twist as it’s purely visual and the story ends quite quickly with the ending being one that left me wondering what the point was to the whole tale as there wasn’t an explanation for what really happens to the girls and what of a particular girl at the end.
After reading this I have to give this book a mixed rating as I absolutely adored the pictures and was enthralled by the story throughout until the ending, but that last part just didn’t work for me and even after reading it several times and showing others, I’m just still lost on why this is considered a good ending as it’s pretty dark and i can only guess that it’s maybe based on some folk tale? I’m not sure if children will enjoy this book or not. The illustrations are amazing and worth looking at more than once, but the story is just lacking a good ending and for that reason I’m rating it down.
What do you think of this book? Do you like the style of illustration? Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂