Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Review: The Cursed Castle by L.J. Tracosas

 Anyone ready for a little fun? We have 'game' evenings on weekends and sometimes like to change things up. The book I have today is exactly something for such an occasion. An escape room in book form! The one I have today is great for kids under ten...older ones might solve the puzzles too quickly.

But if you're ready to work your way through a cursed castle and solve lots of riddles, keep reading.

An Escape Room in a Book
by L.J. Tracosas
Illustrated by Turine Tran
becker&mayer! Kids
Middle Grade Puzzle Book
ages 6 to 10
48 pages

Part choose your own adventure, part seek and find, part escape room, Escape This Book: The Cursed Castle features 48 pages of detailed illustration and puzzles in both art and text. Savvy sleuths will identify missing pattern pieces and break complex codes. Hidden pull tabs reveal hints when readers get stuck and confirm the answers to solved puzzles.

All the fun of an escape room, held in one hand! Travel into a medieval world and face the cursed castle. Before he disappeared, the old king left clues all over his palace, from the courtyard to the dungeons. Can you solve his puzzles to save him? Or will you become another victim of the castle's curse? Challenge your mind with:

Word searches
Logic puzzles
Code-breaking puzzles
And more!

Solve the puzzlesbreak the codes, and detect the patterns to save the king and escape the castle!


                                                                 - compact book
                                                         - nice illustrations
                                                         - entertaining tale/text
                                                         - hints and solutions at end of book
                                                         - a variety of puzzles


Although we usually do escape room books for middle graders (mine is on the upper end), this one leaned toward the easy side. I'd recommend it for the lower end of that spectrum (6 to 10). 

The book dives right into the tale of a castle, asks to search for clues, and also find the way out by going through the castle's different rooms. There's a nice map at the beginning of the book before it breaks off into the different rooms, which each contain a puzzle. There's a table of contents at the beginning of the book, and this is used to find the way to the next room after the puzzle in the last is solved (for example, the puzzle's solution is 'West Tower'. So, the reader goes to the table of contents, finds out which page that's on, and then proceeds to the West Tower pages.) I'd rather have had the pages directly explained and not have had to do this extra flipping...since it does pull out of the story. At the end of the book, the solutions to each puzzle are given. There's also extra hints (not clearly said but helpful) behind little flaps for each room on the inside of the back cover of the book. We didn't find these really helpful or necessary (too much page flipping).

The illustrations are well done and really bring out the characteristics of each room. So, kudos on that end. The tale itself isn't exactly built out. I would have loved to have a nice lead in to set the mood, but it's basically non-existent. Even the rooms could have used a bit more. But the text, as it is, is super short and great for younger readers.

The puzzles are varied and do take a little bit of thinking, sometimes. Unlike other escape room books we've used, this one doesn't really offer anything 'away from the pages'...meaning that all puzzles are printed right there as clear as day. It made it a bit less creative and fun...but for someone who hasn't really explored this type of book before, it's still interesting and does provide enough variety to stay fun.

Summed up, this is a great escape room book for ages 6 to 9 and does offer entertaining puzzles, which will stump and need to be thought through (for that age group).

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