There is trouble stirring in the five kingdoms with the arrival of Truda Hagnail and the Deep Magic she practices. Deep Magic has long ago been outlawed but Truda has ambitions to become the Queen of Waddington or even the ruler of all five kingdoms. We first met Gracie Gillypot in Robe of Skulls. When we left that story Gracie had moved in with the Crones along with her faithful friend a troll called Gubble. For the first time in her life she found kindness and good food.
As Gracie begins her newest adventure Gubble finds some berries. “Gracie stopped and picked a handful … she was pleased to find the berries tasted of chocolate cake. She had eaten them before, and knew they had a delightful habit of tasting exactly like her favourite foods. The first time she had taken the journey to the House of the Ancient Crones she … had the same kind of berries to eat – but at that time Gracie had only eaten potato peelings or porridge skin, and the glories of the berries had almost passed her by.”
Gracie has set off because early one morning a quill pen starts writing messages on the wall of her room and even the house itself seems intent on sending Gracie on a mission to find the source of the Deep Magic and thus save the Kingdom.
Gracie cannot do all this alone, of course. Once again she is assisted by the bat Marlon and his nephew Alfie, along with Prince Marcus and another trueheart girl called Loobly. It is Loobly who has a very special destiny which I will not disclose except to say you might like to think about Cinderella when you are reading this second installment in the Tales from the Five Kingdoms.
This is a series that you need to read in order but I did enjoy The Bag of Bones and now look forward to reading Heart of Glass. In the third book I am sure there will be a little more of the developing romance between Gracie and Marcus. The other aspect of this series which I have enjoyed is the way Vivian French has alternating plots and viewpoints in each chapter. This device certainly keeps the reader on his or her toes and means, for me at least, that I need to read these books quite quickly so I can keep track of all the characters - good, evil, human and animal.