Monday, March 15, 2010

The clitter-clatter of tiny skulls

I've always had a secret yen to be Bad. Haven't you? Surely every Nice Girl or Boy who plays by the rules and loathes making a scene harbors a deeply hidden desire to go rogue. Eva M - Feral Librarian! Perhaps it starts with the clothing.

I just read The Robe of Skulls by Vivian French for the first time. It was funny and sly, and I liked it for many of the same reasons I enjoyed Clover Twig and the Magical Cottage by Kaye Umansky. There is a plucky young heroine, plenty of quirky fairy tale characters, and, best of all, an evil sorceress with a fabulous name who is obsessed by clothing. In Clover Twig, Mesmeranza loved shoes, the more outrageous the better.

In The Robe of Skulls, the deliciously evil Lady Lamorna, she of the ravaged face, sharp collarbones, and flowing long white hair, desires a robe. Not just any robe - it must be of the darkest black velvet, with blood-red petticoats underneath. It should be positively dripping with embroidery spiderwebs entwined with vines of poison ivy. And most important, there must be row upon row of tiny skulls along the bottom hem, so that they will click and clack like hundreds of dice upon the floor as she walks.

Oh, Lady Lamorna. What style! What vision! I, too, want just such a robe. But perhaps I'll settle for what Lady Lamorna finally receives - a truly magnificent robe, perfect in every detail, but with silver-painted walnuts sewn onto the hem instead of skulls. Works for me. Clitter-clatter, clitter-clatter...

As the Queen asks rhetorically during her death scene in The Forbidden Zone, "Why does it feel so good to be so bad?" Maybe it's the clothing, darling.

Can't wait to read The Bag of Bones and the rest in the series.


  1. Great review! Really enjoyed your use of language and imagery about this most enjoyable series. Badly yours...

  2. I bought this for our library last year but never actually read it...but I loved Clover Twig, so I must read this one, obviously!

  3. I enjoy this series lots! I'm glad you liked it.