Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye: A Novel

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A gloomy, nine-story mansion, perched on a plateau in a desolate countryside. A trench-coated, top-hatted visitor stands in an illuminated doorway, a tiny, frog-faced boy dwarfed by this imposing figure, as he stands on a checkerboard-tiled floor, the scene ringed by an ornate, circular frame. Taking up two pages, his aunt and uncle sit at a very long dining room table. The boy's aunt accuses him, a black word balloon contains the word "Liar!" in calligraphic script. The boy uses the reflection of an algae-filled basin to read the mysterious page of a handwritten journal, its letters written in ornate, backwards cursive.

Warren, a peculiar-looking child with a toad-like face and a luxurious head of hair, is the 13th descendent of the founder of the now-decrepit hotel where he lives with his lazy uncle and mean aunt. Hidden within the walls of the rundown hotel is the All-Seeing Eye, a mythical treasure. Rumors of its existence brings untold numbers of treasure hunters to his family's hotel, including a mysterious lodger covered in bandages. The nine-story-high mansion begins to be ransacked by these new guests, its furniture toppled, its floorboards pulled up, its carpets unraveled, all in the search for the treasure. A pale spectral girl lurks in the hedge maze, and a strange tentacled creature dwells in the boiler room. Warren's only friends are Chef Bunion, and his tutor, Mr. Friggs, but his circle of new friends begins to grow in unexpected ways. A colorful cast of characters include witches, pirates, ghosts, librarians, perfumiers, and chefs.

Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye is a lovely book with a foil-embossed cover, nearly every page containing red and black line engraved illustrations that look as though they were pulled from an antiquated reference book from a dusty library. "The ugly boy with the big heart and beautiful hair" meets several intriguing characters, who often aren't what they appear, and navigates a compelling storyline, strewn with puzzles and clues. Ominous black pages hint at arcane goings-on, and they're topped with backward, spell-like chapter headings. As the plot twists and turns, descriptive passages weave an atmosphere filled with the scents and flavors of zesty beef goulash, the feelings of dread, excitement, loneliness, and ultimately triumph. It's a delightful page-turner.

– S. Deathrage