Review based on free copy received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This book was just what it purported to be: a quick, fun, quirky story about Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye. It is populated with classic fairy-tale characters, including a quirky, sweet, smart (though not terribly smart), and relatable main character; the imaginary or non-imaginary but definitely weird and quirky side-kick and/or best friend; the missing or dead parents; the oblivious relative caring for the protagonist; the evil pointy villain who only shows her true evil'ness to the hero; and a mystery with supernatural implications.
Immediately, I liked Warren - the 12-year-old sole bellhop to the Warren, the hotel that has been owned and run by every prior Warren up to him. Because his father died when Warren was 7, he has to wait many years before he can officially take over. Meanwhile, his lazy uncle has taken over and the place has fallen into complete disrepair. Warren is completely likable. Even though he may have yellow ringlets and a toad-like face with weird spaced out teeth... he's charismatic, hard-working, and optimistic. I immediately trusted him and his perspective, and I immediately wanted for him to overcome the nasty step-mother and the eventual evil villain.
Overall, I thought del Rio did an excellent job of juxtaposing the characters one from another -- perhaps the characters were a little stock and two-dimensional, but for a middle grade modern "fairy tale," it was just right. I love the sheer oblivion and laziness of the uncle, the questionable character of his new best friend, and the creep-factor of Paleface.
The plot moved quickly with a lot of fun, crazy things happening. The heros were in just enough fixes with just enough uncertainty to keep the plot moving. I enjoyed the variety in location, and I appreciated the type and amount of outside factors used throughout. The only thing I didn't *love* was every part of the resolution. Parts of it were great and fit in well, but I though that just 1 or 2 bits were perhaps a bit too... convenient. (no spoilers!) I also LOVED the illustrations.
Overall, a great middle grade book that I will DEFinitely purchase for my friend's 12-year-old male son (or his 7-year-old sister!).
FOUR of five stars.