Review: The Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty


Hardcover, 468 pages
Published March 25th 2014 by Arthur A. Levine Books
Source: Purchased

It used to be, the world was a fried egg.

As evidenced from the quote above, The Cracks in the Kingdom continues in the same deliciously kooky vein as A Corner of White. Now that the world has been established, more attention is focused on the specifics of Elliot’s world. While the first book in the trilogy was mostly dedicated to Madeleine, in The Cracks in the Kingdom Elliot, his world, family, and friends are explored in greater detail. The pace of the story speeds up significantly as well. Having read the last book in this trilogy, I can honestly say that this middle book is my favourite of the three.

There is a reason Jaclyn Moriarty is known as the Epistolary Queen–because she is. Her words are infused with such warmth, such candour, that their profundity hits you a second later but when it does, you stop still and just wonder. The silliness of the banter, the eccentric nature of the people writing the letters do not take away from the wisdom that somehow bubbles up despite their youth and inexperience.

Okay, the above was unnecessarily ambiguous so I will post a bit of the review I wrote for this book when I first read it right after another quote:

I am about to be as wise as an old Greek guy. You ready?

The world is made up of more than particles. It’s made of things you can’t hold in your hand, like fear, love, loss, hope, truth. Or plural, truths, and you can take these by the shoulders and turn them around to face you. Or tilt them so you can see them in the light.

And maybe truths are like horses on a carousel. You could keep running around, trying to catch one, or you could just stand still and believe, and wait for it to come to you.

The Cracks in the Kingdom is everything I like in a sequel. The plot threads are picked up and the characters return with vigor and become even more colourful than in the first installment of the trilogy. This book focuses more on Elliot than on Madeleine and this worked well for me because the action occurs where Elliott is. Madeleine’s character was developed quite thoroughly in the first book and I think because the first book was so introspective, so focused on her growth as a person rather than external action, the pace of it lagged quite a bit. In contrast, this book is chockful of action. Elliot finds himself having to take part in the Royal Youth Alliance which is just a cover for the actual work the group is doing: retrieving the members of the royal family who have been exiled to the World.

The Cracks in the Kingdom has Moriarty’s signature style of wit interspersed with such clever wisdom that I had to read a passage twice and even thrice to soak it in entirely. I love Moriarty’s turn of phrase and with this novel, she redeemed herself for me. Moriarty’s brilliance is character building; she manages to individuate each character so thoroughly that thinking of them as real people rather than fictional people becomes easy. No stock character tropes such as “love interest” for her, no, Elliot is fully realized as a person with hopes, wishes and flaws. I love the conversations he has with Madeleine and how he expresses his inability to comprehend her at times. Their interactions are a highlight of the novel and even when their relationship goes south, it does so in a believable way. All writers should aspire to write their characters the way Moriarty does because I know I do. The romance such as it is finally starts to unfurl. It is a small aspect of the novel though but a welcome one.

The novel is mainly about relationships between parents and children. The themes of loss are prominent and along the way there is a definite flavour of bildungsroman thrown in for good measure. The Kingdom of Cello is wonderfully created and the new characters introduced in the novel are all, as expected, fascinating. I love the twist at the end of the book; it was unexpected but welcome. The book leaves the reader at a good point: satisfied but wanting more.

The duality, she realised, is inside us. We are all composed of absolutely yes and absolutely no, of north and south, dark and light; we are all both heroes and opposite of heroes; we can all fly and we can fall.

A strong wind can blow us away, or we can ride it.

There are two sides to everyone, and two sides to everything, and then there’s the infinite space that’s in between.

4 responses to “Review: The Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty

  1. Really liked your review and thoroughly enjoyed the parallel worlds Moriarty created in The Colours of Madeleine series. Very much looking forward to A Tangle of Gold!

  2. Pingback: The Winner’s Kiss Blog Tour: Memorable Fictional Kisses | The Book Wars·

  3. Pingback: Review: A Tangle of Gold by Jaclyn Moriarty (The Colours of Madeleine #3) | The Book Wars·

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