Parents' Guide to

The Chaos Curse: Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond, Book 3

By Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

Chaotic tale with solid message that diverse stories matter.

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Myths and more get all mixed up in this overly chaotic story with a great message about the importance of preserving diverse tales. Kiran's task may seem simple at the beginning of The Chaos Curse -- rescue Prince Lal. But this simple trajectory gets wrapped up in so much complexity that it's overwhelming. There's a talking bird who loves dumb jokes, a nonbinary intellectual tiger, a gecko communication device, a flighty moon mother, the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, Einstein in a wormhole explaining about string theory (wait, no, that's on the way back), these blue butterflies everywhere, and a scene straight out of Alice in Wonderland with keys and doors and a riddle. There's a certain delight in all this chaos on top of more chaos that gets in the way of telling a clear quest tale. The great message about preserving these unique stories almost gets lost.

When Kiran, Lal, and her strange animal sidekicks get back to the Kingdom Beyond, there's another story structure challenge: For pages, Kiran and Prince Neel have lost their heroic roles. They're in the way of other characters and causing trouble. This doesn't get resolved until near the end in a time travel adventure that will remind readers of Back to the Future -- oddly the parallel is never mentioned, when there are so many references rolling about. This jaunt to the past and its consequences in the present help The Chaos Curse end on a clever high note.

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