Book Reviews

Review: “The Cracks in the Kingdom,” Jaclyn Moriarty

February 22, 2016

I received this book for free from Pan Macmillan Australia in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: “The Cracks in the Kingdom,” Jaclyn MoriartyThe Cracks in the Kingdomby Jaclyn Moriarty
Series: The Colours of Madeleine #2
Published by Pan Macmillan on March, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy
Pages: 485
Source: Pan Macmillan Australia
Book Depository | Bookworld | Booktopia

Princess Ko's been bluffing about the mysterious absence of her father, desperately trying to keep the government running on her own. But if she can't get him back in a matter of weeks, the consequence may be a devastating war. So under the guise of a publicity stunt she gathers a group of teens -- each with a special ability -- from across the kingdom to crack the unsolvable case of the missing royals of Cello.

Chief among these is farm-boy heartthrob Elliot Baranski, more determined than ever to find his own father. And with the royal family trapped in the World with no memory of their former lives, Elliot's value to the Alliance is clear: He's the only one with a connection to the World, through his forbidden communications with Madeleine.

The Cracks in the Kingdom was just as unique and quirky as its predecessor, however I felt at almost 500-pages, this one sadly dragged on for me. Unlike A Corner of White, I didn’t have an ‘A-HA!’ moment while reading The Cracks in the Kingdom. While I thought it was a great addition to the series, I wish it would have been a lot shorter.

 “There was something in the moonlight tonight. It was stroking the stonework and spires, leaning into cracks between the cobblestones, caressing the stained-glass windows. She felt her heart lift with magic.”

I had this book with me on a week-long holiday to Melbourne. It goes without saying that real life can often get in the way of reading – especially on holidays when you’re so tired by the end of the day that you can’t pick up your current read. So, imagine my disappointment when The Cracks in the Kingdom wasn’t exactly pulling me to it at the end of a day of exploring…

THIS BOOK WAS TOUGH. After deciding that hey, I actually ended up kind of enjoying A Corner of White, I was so very ready to jump into The Cracks in the Kingdom with renewed fervour. There were some great new additions to the story (the Royal Youth Alliance, etc.) but it was just so incredibly slow-moving… I kept waiting for things to HAPPEN and they did so at a snail’s pace. It was only by the end of the book that I felt things were actually coming together.

“So I’m thinking – did I just measure you and Cello into existence? Imagine you into existence, I mean. If I open up the parking meter, will Cello be there? Is Cello a cat? And is there any point if the box can’t be opened?”
– Madeleine

Elliot Baranski is still a loveable character. I much prefer his chapters in the Kingdom of Cello than I do Madeleine’s in Cambridge. After two hefty books, I still haven’t warmed up to Madeleine, sadly, or her relationships with Jack and Belle. I thought that perhaps enlightening them to the plight of Cello would make things more interesting, but sadly it didn’t.

We see a LOT of the Royal Youth Alliance; Princess Ko, Samuel, Sergio, Keira and Elliot. Initially I thought these characters would hinder the development of the already-great story, but they actually added to it. I like seeing the individual flavours of all the provinces within Cello being brought out by the RYA characters. The group’s trek to the Lake of Spells was probably the highlight of the book for me.

The Cracks in the Kingdom focuses on the disappearance of the Cello Royal Family. I was fully prepared for this to be the main, driving force of the book – and that it would give us some real excitement – so you can imagine how let down I was that nobody seemed to be doing all that much about it. Time was of the essence, but did Elliot particularly try that hard to open the crack he found, or find out any information about cracks themselves? Nope. He would look at someone and consider it, then decide it was for another day. I just didn’t get the lack of enthusiasm from all of the RYA members… and Princess Ko was just… kinda unlikeable.

“Distance is the journey. Displacement is the result.”

What should have been a fast-moving, exciting ride was dull and sluggish. There were also minor storylines such as the recapture of Elliot’s father, Madeleine assisting Elliot and the RYA in their quest to retrieve the Royals, and the RYA travelling across Cello. What was great was that we got to see more of Jaclyn Moriarty’s original world, what wasn’t so great was that with new things came more head-scratching world-building such as ‘Occasional Pilots’ and Clay Brown storms.

I really wanted to love The Cracks in the Kingdom, but it didn’t offer me enough in the way of pacing and a continuation of the excitement that coloured the last few chapters of A Corner of White. Of course, I absolutely praise Jaclyn Moriarty endlessly for crafting a series unlike any I’ve ever read before. Regardless of the stars I give these books, the writing is superb and lyrical, and the ideas within startlingly unique.

About Jaclyn Moriarty

Jaclyn Moriarty is an Australian writer of young adult literature. She studied English at the University of Sydney, and law at Yale University and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where she was awarded a PhD. She currently lives in Sydney.


  • Reply Kyra @ Blog of a Bookaholic February 22, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    I have the first book on my kindle to read – hopefully I’ll enjoy it! Although the premise of this book sounds fascinating and the writing sounds scrumptious, I do think it might get a bit too wordy for my liking? Wonderful review! :)
    Kyra @ Blog of a Bookaholic recently posted…Not If I See You First by Eric Landstrom disappointed me slightlyMy Profile

  • Reply Kristin @ Simply Bookish Things February 22, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    It’s always the worst when a sequel end up being a dull read! Lovely honest review :)
    Kristin @ Simply Bookish Things recently posted…Series Review – The Kanin Chronicles by Amanda HockingMy Profile

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