Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Questory of Root Karbunkulus by Kamilla Reid

The Questory of Root Karbunkulus: Item 1 - Miist by Kamilla Reid
Copyright 2007, Book Surge
306 pages
Root Karbunkulus Website

What led you to pick up this book? I requested the book to review for a July book tour and received two copies (one to give away) directly from the author.

Summarize the plot but don't give away the ending. Root Karbunkulus, an orphan from the world of Dre'Amm, has been raised on Earth by two women who claim to be her aunts in a half-orange, half-puce house where she is treated more like a slave than a "niece". When Root is invited to join in on a quest in the magical world of Dre'Amm, she jumps at the chance to leave her awful home. The children are divided into teams in order to go in search of the first item, the Miist of Kalliope. During their quest, they face dangerous creatures and frightening ordeals. Will they succeed in finding the Miist of Kalliope and live to face the next 5 challenges?

What did you like most about the book? I liked the creativity of the author. There's a huge cast of characters and creatures -- at times, almost overwhelming -- but very few of them gave me the sense that they were borrowed from other works.

What did you think of the characters? Root is the main character and I think she's a likable heroine. She's courageous and she has a good heart. The rest are quite a hodgepodge. Teammates Dwyn and Lian each typically have strengths and weaknesses that occasionally add tension. As teammates, they bring their own unique and useful skills to the table. My absolute favorite character is Argo Bumplekins. I never wanted his scenes to end. And, I loved his crazy spying vine, Betty.

Share a favorite scene from the book: No contest -- definitely the scene in which Root discovers the source of the ringing sound she's been hearing for hours and hours is a phone in the basement. The phone splits in half and shows the caller, Argo Bumplekins, in miniature. This is how the Dre'Amm telephone system works and I loved it. I want a phone like that.

Thumbs Up: The Questory of Root Karbunkulus is told in the standard fantasy/quest manner, with a wildly imaginative set of characters, settings, creatures and events. Fantasy is something I only occasionally read, in part because I tend to find strange names annoying. In this case, I rather liked her name choices although I thought there were a few too many characters. I'd say the book is above average on creativity. One unanswered question I had was "Why?", meaning "Why were children chosen for this quest?" The author says the reason that children of a certain age have been chosen for the quest will be explained in future installments of the 6-part series.

In general: I enjoyed the book, but I have a few minor complaints. The beginning seemed a little complex and adult for children (I thought it might be a bit confusing), but the book gradually became an easier read. I felt a little overwhelmed by the number of new characters and creatures that were introduced. However, the book is so vividly described that it's easy to visualize every character and setting. The book also seemed pretty well-edited until about page 100. From then on, I found numerous grammatical, punctuation and spelling errors. And, the final annoyance (which may be a personal taste issue) was the use of the word "kids" rather than "children" throughout the book. There was one short section during which a group of children were referred to as "children" . . . but then the author reverted back to the word "kids". I once had a teacher who pounded this into our little heads: "Kids are baby billy goats. Children are human." That lesson apparently stuck.

Read other reviews, here:

Next up: An interview with the author of Root Karbunkulus.

Totally unnecessary but interesting side note: The author is Canadian! I'm not going to list this book as one of my reads for the 2nd Canadian Reading Challenge, Eh? because I'd rather focus on books that are actually set in Canada. But, still . . . cool. Look for my excuse to use the word "toque" in the interview.

Ugh. Oh. Argh. The roofers are here. It sounds like the house is being attacked, like an earthquake on top of a storm on top of a bunch of hammering noises. The cat is decidedly displeased. Kitty is actually a little sick, so we were planning to take her to the vet, but she has hidden (surprise, surprise) and refuses to emerge. I keep hoping she'll come out, if only so we'll have an excuse to leave the house.

*Update* - The roofers have left, our new turbines are rotating up a storm, and the cat has emerged, but a bit too late. Just after writing the paragraph above, the kiddo declared that he'd had enough banging for one day and was monstrously hungry (which is pretty much always the case). We dashed out for a bite to eat -- in two separate vehicles -- and then he branched off to work at the pool and I spent my afternoon with Anne, Marilla and Matthew on lovely Prince Edward Island but really in the local library, where the nearest person sitting in the window had his feet propped on a skateboard.

I roamed around in the library, a bit, and found that Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer was finally on the shelves. Wahoo! I read 3 chapters of that, as well, and then checked it out.

Hubby strictly forbade me from photographing the roofers on the off chance that they might find my presence distracting, darn it. So, to keep this post from looking entirely too dull, I'll share a photo I re-photographed from my father's first photo album. Thank goodness he wrote on the photo or I'd never have been able to find him. This is my father returning from the Philippines on the U.S.S. President Adams at the end of WWII (barely visible at the back, but isn't the photo great?). He had an entire series of photos, apparently taken by a professional as the ship arrived at the dock.

Off to finish Anne of Green Gables with a box of tissues nearby. Smiles all around!


  1. This book sounds darn promising, and I'm glad you reviewed it lest I should've thought it a cheap HP rip-off. For shame! I'm glad you liked it, and I'm looking forward to your author interview.

    Glad the roof business is squared away. If anyone were to roof our house now they'd be annoyed to the max by barking pups.

  2. Andi,

    There are some very minor parallels, like two boys and a girl and I think that's about it, but I have to admit it's been quite a while since I read any Harry Potter. The author's answers are really interesting. :)

    I'm so glad the roofing went fast. I had no idea our walls were so thin. They shook like we were in a house of cards. Unnerving!! I don't think I'd have heard dogs barking, but I'll bet those guys set off a few neighborhood dogs.

  3. That is a cool picture. I've been watching the TV show CARRIER about that Navy ship and it looks so cool when the ship pulls up to port with all the sailors in their white uniforms.

  4. Nikki,

    Isn't that a great photo? I wish my father was standing in a place where you could really see him, but at least he did mark where to look.

    I've seen bits of CARRIER. They were initiating the new people, when I walked into the room, and I wondered if my father had to go through all that mess! :)

  5. You're the second person I've passed today who's read Anne of Green Gables either today or yesterday! Strange. I should read that one.

    So glad you're reading Life as we Knew it...I loved it :) Hope you enjoy it too. Well, enjoy might not be the word throughout the whole book....but I hope it isn't a miserable experience for you ;)

    The Root Karbunkulus book sounds pretty good. I'm with Andi. I thought it was going to be a HP rip off, but I'm glad it wasn't! I think with any YA Fantasy these days of the "3 young children on a task" type, that's what we expect.

  6. Chris,

    I've had Anne of Green Gables near my bed for months and owned a set of the first three for probably a decade. I thought joining the Canadian challenge would give me the kick I needed to actually pick it up and start reading. Yep, that worked! It's the 100th anniversary of publication, so that might be why you're seeing so many people reading it -- either that or the Canadian Reading Challenge.

    I always enjoy apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic novels. Weird, but true. I think they theorize on a kind of "what if" that I like pondering. So, yeah, I'm enjoying Life as We Knew It, even though it's kind of harrowing!

    Root Karbunkulus is pretty fun. There were times I became tired of it and had to set it down (now and then, I also thought it became a bit lame and then it would improve), but that's almost always true of any book I focus on exclusively -- and I did so in order to try to get the review up on time for a book tour. I think you're right that the Harry Potter series . . . maybe it's become so iconic that any author is going to appear to be a ditto if they use a trio of children as the protagonists.

  7. I'm glad the roofers have come and gone. I've never had a house re-roofed, but when the time comes, I'm heading out for the entire day(s)! I hate being around when major stuff is being done on the house. I'm always such a Nervous Nelly and I'm sure our walls would be shaking, too. Yikes!

    So Kiddo is driving himself now, eh? Whatever will you do with all your free time? ;)

    I keep hearing great things about Life As We Knew It and need to snag a copy since I"m like you and love those post-apocalyptic tales.

    Fabulous photo of your dad on the Adams! How wonderful to have all of those pics to look back on.

    Sorry for the long comment, but it was a long post. :)

  8. Les,

    Oddly, all that banging really didn't bother me, apart from the shaking walls. That did kind of make me cringe.

    Welllll, I've been goofing but I'm going to try to start taking better advantage of that non-chauffeuring time. Today, however, I've been all over the galaxy. I had to fetch sick kitty from the vet, drive kiddo to work (he overslept -- should have been gone when I came back with kitty) because he was a little drowsy and running late; I won't let a teen drive tired and in a hurry. Then I had to walk around with the roofer and discuss the chimney cap, the funky chimney, and what he did to improvise. After that, I moved money to pay him and fetched dinner for kiddo. Sigh. I thought I'd have more time to clean.

    I enjoyed Life as We Knew It. The style surprised me (not necessarily in a good way) but there's just something about the "what if" of an apocalyptic disaster that appeals to me.

    Isn't that photo great? My father took scads of pictures and I love it that he mixed in some professional photos like the pics of the Adams. All of his albums are wonderful keepsakes. I found his uniforms, too, in pristine condition!

    Oops, talk about long. :)

  9. Anonymous5:39 PM

    Hello, love your Blog. My name is Jim and my grandfather served on the President Adams, he lost an eye off of Iwo Jima. I have been using his letters that he wrote home to my grandmother to write a book for my family, Is there any chance that you would be willing to share some of your father's photos of the Adams that I could include in my book? I will not be selling the book, will only be giving it to my family as a gift and a rememberance.

    Thank you in advance, Jim

    1. Hi Jim,

      I'm afraid I have no idea where those photos are located. We recently moved house and are buried in boxes. It could be a year before I even locate them, since we lived in our last house so long (we had way too many possessions) and had to move out more quickly than we anticipated (and were therefore pretty bad about labeling things). Sorry.


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