Abarat: The Abarat Trilogy, Book 1

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Abarat: The Abarat Trilogy, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Travelogue of the weird for kid fantasy fans.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 11 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Fantasy violence, but some quite bloody. References to Candy being abused by her father. Not really, but Barker's imagination leans to the grotesque. Candy is often in danger.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some drunkenness.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that those with a taste for the creepy and bizarre this is a romp. For sensitive children, there's plenty here to induce nightmares. Either way, you may want to read and discuss the strange occurrences here together.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byKairiblue November 15, 2015

A wonderful colourful adventure.

I myself love this series and recently let my 10yr old daughter start the first book as she was growing bored of her selection. She loves it also, it's a... Continue reading
Adult Written byTeamPTSA April 9, 2008

Fantastic imagery

Humble beginnings offer the wildest possibilities. Wonderfully described, believable, true-to-life characters, some of them outrageously fictitious, make choice... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bychri58p6 April 21, 2016

Got its ups and downs

It's an adventurous book and I really liked it. It has some challenging words but I still found it easy to understand (I am reading level Z). However, unli... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byArtichokes-United August 20, 2012

A Magical World of Adventure

I've loved the Abarat books ever since I was a kid. Lots of action, adventure, and cool characters. The imagery is spectacular especially when paired with... Continue reading

What's the story?

Clive Barker's second book for young adults and the first of a proposed series is Alice in Wonderland for the new millennium. Like Carroll's heroine, Candy Quackenbush finds herself following a strange creature into a stranger world though, this being the 21st century, she is escaping a drunken and abusive father in a town devoted to butchering chickens, rather than just a dull afternoon, and instead of a tea party on land she finds a poker game floating in the sea.

She soon discovers that this land is the Abarat, a chain of 25 islands, each existing in a different unchanging hour of the day (and one mysterious extra island), inhabited by a multiplicity of strange creatures, from John Mischief, who has seven brothers growing out of his horns, to Christopher Carrion, who wears a high translucent collar filled with nightmares swimming in blue fluid.

Is it any good?

The plot is mainly an excuse for an excursion through the fertile, bizarre, and gruesome imagination of author Clive Barker. This first book suggests an author obsessed: In addition to more than 400 pages of text (including a 25-page appendix), Barker has created over 100 vividly colorful illustrations. When the book first came out there was a free poster map of the world, and there is an interactive version on the Web site (www.harperchildren.com/), though why they didn't print the map on the endpapers is a mystery in an otherwise gorgeous and lavishly produced book.

This appeals to children who like to be fascinated, rather than emotionally invested. Though the story lacks the heart tight plotting of the best children's books, children with a taste for the wild and grotesque will by enthralled by this travelogue of the weird.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the thin plot. Is the descriptive adventure satisfying, or do you prefer stories with tighter plots? What would you hope to see in subsequent books in this series?

Book details

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