Review: Lord of Monsters by John Claude Bemis (guest post + giveaway)

Lord of Monsters
by Jean Claude Bemis
Series: Out of Abaton #2
Published: 6 June 2017
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 320
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Ages: 8-12
Source: Provided by Publisher (THANK YOU!)
My Rating: 5/5!
Pinocchio can’t believe the Moonlit Court is his home. With royal banquets, a regal wardrobe, and a whole new set of rules, Pinocchio has a lot to adjust to in his new life as prester alongside Princess Lazuli. But before they can get comfortable in their thrones, a dinner at the palace is interrupted by an unwelcome guest—a monster. And this isn’t just any monster; it’s a manticore, a beast that was imprisoned centuries earlier. Desperate to locate the prison and make sure none of its other monsters were able to escape, Lazuli, Pinocchio, and their Celestial Brigade set out to save Abaton from these ancient beings.

Their journey requires intelligence, strength, and a dash of the magic. But when Pinocchio tries to use his powers, they have an unintended effect: he is turning back into a wooden automa. And if he’s not careful, he may lose his human form forever.

The second book in the Out of Abaton series continues John Claude Bemis’s reimagining of Pinocchio in an action-packed adventure that celebrates friendship, tolerance, and the power of being yourself.

Purchase: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon

Magic and wonder abound in this wonderful addition to John Claude Bemis's Out of Abaton series! Lord of Monsters picks up shortly after the events in the first book, The Wooden Boy. Pinocchio is a real boy now and has been living in Abaton as one of its prester's (rulers) for a few months. His fellow prester and friend, Lazuli (daughter of Prester John, the previous ruler of Abaton), is glad to be home, though she misses her father. Abaton has been a peaceful place for centuries, but with threats from every side, Prester Pinocchio and Prester Lazuli have their work cut out for them.

I absolutely LOVED this book! I had anticipated enjoying it because I was a fan of the first book, but I had no idea I was going to fall head-over-heels for it. Pinocchio, as ever, is steadfast and true. He is desperately worried his new subjects will find out he was once an automa and refuse to accept him as a prester of Abaton. I really felt for Pinocchio. After all, he went through quite a lot to get where he is, but he knows the prejudices against alchemists and their creations, which includes automa. He is also worried that he's not fit to rule because he has no experience in such matters. One of my favorite things about this series is that it really drives home the importance of being yourself and not judging others. Pinocchio doesn't judge someone because they are this way or that, he takes them for who they are. He celebrates it. I think this is a very important lesson that can be taken from Pinocchio and those he cares for. After all, others took a chance on Pinocchio, looking pass the fact that he was an automa. They saw him for the kind, honorable person he is. Again, what a wonderful message!

I was so pleased to be able to see more of the fierce princess Lazuli. We get to see her on her home turf this time! She has been raised as a princess of the Moonlit Court, so she knows how to be proper and present herself according to the expectations of the nobles and her subjects. But Lazuli also finds it difficult to feel comfortable as one of the new rulers. She wants adventure and exploration, not the stuffy responsibilities of the throne. Then chaos erupts when monsters start escaping from their eternal prison and attacking Abaton and its citizens. I had no worries that Pinocchio and Lazuli would rise to the challenge to save their people from destruction, but would it prove too much for them?

Familiar favorites are present in this addition to the series, such as Pinocchio's alchemist father, Geppetto, Maestro the cricket, Mezmer and Sop, the fierce fighters, and even cranky Cinnabar. I loved being able to see them all again! I was even more elated to meet some new, amazing characters as well! Let me tell you, there are some great new additions. For example, we have a slow-moving reptile-ish chimera that has surprising speed when necessary, a spunky little mushroom-esque creature that made me laugh at every turn, three unicorn-like sisters full of gumption, and so many more! Not only were the "good" guys amazing, but even the "villains" were captivating and dynamic. John Claude Bemis is so masterful at creating unique and real characters, and that's even before you take into account they are not all of them human. In fact, in this story, the only human is Geppetto. Think of how amazing a feat it is to create an entire continent of unusual and dynamic creatures so masterfully. Well done, sir!

Though we were in a slightly more familiar kind of environment in The Wooden Boy, the world of Abaton is anything but ordinary. It is books like Lord of Monsters, with its vivid imagery and stunning landscapes, that those with visual minds and overactive imaginations find themselves completely immersed. I want to go to Abaton. I want to see the chimera and elemental folks. I want to venture to the deepest caverns and the tallest cities shrouded in mist. I want to climb aboard a floating battleship and explore this wondrous land! Not only is John Claude Bemis amazing at creating great characters, but he is also masterful at building a world you want to dive right into.

Lord of Monsters is full of wonderful characters, beautifully vivid landscapes, exciting adventures, and an immeasurable amount of heart. If you want to get lost in a book, I highly suggest you read Lord of Monsters today!

And now for your viewing pleasure, I present to you an amazing and fun guest post by the author himself! Take it away, Mr. Bemis!
By John Claude Bemis
"I know this series has a lot of interesting characters and creatures. How did you come up with them and which ones are your favorites?"

The Wooden Prince, the first book in the Out of Abaton series, takes place in a Da Vinci-punk Venetian Empire. But with the latest adventure, Lord of Monsters, the story shifts to the magical world of Abaton with all its strange inhabitants. I love developing quirky secondary characters. My favorite stories—Harry Potter, The Neverending Story, The Golden Compass—have strong casts of minor characters surrounding the protagonists and adding a lot of intrigue, humor, and heart.

Originally, I had a larger cast of creatures serving as knights to our heroes Pinocchio and Lazuli, but I soon realized I needed to pare down and give more contrast. I liked the idea of creating opposites. Two of my favorites are Goliath and Kataton. One is small. The other enormous. One gregarious and the other practically comatose. Goliath, who comes from a race of diminutive mushroom people, is feisty and fast-talking. While Kataton is a physically intimidating reptilian chimera who seems slow and lethargic until he’s in a tough spot. Then he explodes into action. Something about this combo just seemed fun and ripe with surprises and possibilities.

Another creature I had a blast inventing was Riggle. The idea for him came about as a bit of a plot device honestly. I needed a way for the heroes to communicate across long distances in Abaton, but I wanted to do something I hadn’t seen in other fantasy stories. So I invented the superfluous worm, a creature who can be chopped in half and becomes essentially two worms with the same brain. Whatever one Riggle hears, so does the other. So Pinocchio has one Riggle and his father Geppetto has the other, and they can pass messages along through Riggle (or is it Riggles?). It also cracked me up to have a character so amiable about being severed in two.

There are many of creatures in the book I adore. The jittery owl scholar Dr. Nundrum. The hotshot sylph archer Rion who thinks too highly of himself. The cute, bubbly Aleya and a trio of unicorn sisters who don’t seem at first like suitable knights, but prove to be formidable heroes in the end. I hope readers of Lord of Monsters will have as much fun getting to know them as I had bringing them to life.
John Claude Bemis is an award-winning author, musician, and educator. His novels include The Wooden Prince and Lord of Monsters, the first two books in the Out of Abaton series (Disney-Hyperion) and the Clockwork Dark trilogy (Random House), among others. John was chosen as North Carolina’s Piedmont Laureate for Children’s Literature. He lives with his wife and daughter in Hillsborough, NC. Visit him online at johnclaudebemis.com.


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