The King in the Window
One January evening in modern-day Paris, eleven-year-old American Oliver Parker embarks upon an adventure that takes him on a journey far beyond his wildest imaginings. Standing in his bedroom window, wearing his Epiphany prize of a gold-paper crown, Oliver encounters a Window Wraith who leads him to the palace at Versailles and the “court” of the Window Wraiths, which includes such 17th century luminaries as Racine and Molìere. These spirits, trapped in the palace windows for centuries, believe Oliver is the King in the Window who will win their war with the evil “Master of Mirrors.”
In this first foray into children’s literature, award-winning nonfiction author Adam Gopnik has crafted a historical fantasy populated with a parade of real-life and fictional characters, including Alice in Wonderland and Nostradamus. The role which mirrors and windows play in the plot is interesting, but overly complicated. The story doesn’t truly begin until we are about one hundred pages into the book—too long, I think, for today’s readers, whether juvenile or adult. The pace, slow in general, is exacerbated by the author’s frequent parenthetical (and otherwise) diversions from Oliver’s viewpoint. These stylistic meanderings seemed to me not only unnecessary, but on occasion, downright odd. Ages 9-12.