THE KING IN THE WINDOW is historical and slightly hysterical. It veers from fact to fiction and from present to past. But it never stops being highly entertaining, enchanting and enthralling.
Award-winning adult author Adam Gopnik`s first children`s book, an adventure set in modern day Paris starring an American boy who finds himself at the center of a war between window and mirror spirits, is an mixed bag of fantasy, technology and history that doesn`t quite hang together as a whole. One January evening, eleven-year-old Oliver receives a vision in his bedroom window of a young boy in 17th century dress. This apparition informs him that he is the new King in the Window, a hero elected by kind window wraiths to assist them in their centuries-long war with the soul-stealing evil mirror spirits. Soon, Oliver finds himself in The Way, or the parallel universe on the other side of mirrors. Here, he engages in battle with the diabolical Master of Mirrors, chats with Nostradamus, and helps rescue an elderly Alice in Wonderland. In addition, there is a subplot concerning a super computer atop the Eiffel Tower! , An examination of 17th century French court life, and an on-going discussion of quantum physics. Whew! Gopnik`s promising premise quickly sinks under the weight of top-heavy symbolism, arcane literary references, and a seemingly endless supply of quirky characters. As a result, the narrative loses its thread, and ultimately, it`s target middle grade audience, who will be unable to tie together the divergent strands of this convoluted tale. In sum, less would have been much more. --Jennifer Hubert
Written by Adam Gopnik, a staff writer, THE KING IN THE WINDOW takes place in Paris. Its hero is Oliver Parker, a 12-year-old American boy living in Paris with his parents.