Children of the Red King

  • Book
  • By Jenny Nimmo 
  • Reviewed by Kit

The following are out of 5

Racial Representation: 5

LGBTQ+ Representation: 0

Disability Representation: 5

Body Size Representation: 3

Gender Representation: 3

Socioeconomic Representation: 4

Mental Health Representation: 2

Religious Representation: 0

Own Voice: No

**This review contains spoilers**

Children of the Red King is a surprisingly dark and complex tale about the warring dynasties descended from the enigmatic Red King. There are multiple plot threads but the main one is the protagonist, Charlie Bone, trying to find out what really happened to his missing father while simultaneously learning how to use his new magical powers and struggling to survive at Bloors Academy and fending off the evil descendants of the Red King intent on stopping him.

No one has an explicit mental illness but several characters are motivated/influenced by previous abuse/trauma and are portrayed sympathetically. An example of this is mentor great-uncle Patton who spent most of his life as a withdrawn passive shut-in which resembles agoraphobia but re-joins the world in middle-age to protect his great-nephew Charlie. This shows that it’s never too late to regain control of your life after a trauma. Virtually every character is descended from the African Red King and he has descendants spread across multiple ethnicities all over the world. However Lysander and his parents are the only prominent black characters. Lysander’s a pretty great character, being completely unafraid of the various adult villains that threaten the child heroes and he’s already a budding leader. Most of the main heroes are male but there are several heroic female characters, kids as well as middle-aged and elderly women. Billy Raven, an albino child, is the only disabled character. Unlike most fictional albinos he actually has all the disabilities real albinos have. The author also deliberately plays with audience’s expectations that albinos are supposed to be mysterious/creep etc. to create a fascinating character arc. It initially looks like he’s just a creepy little villain before we find out he’s fighting against internalised ableism and the emotionally abusive manipulations of his villainous “guardians” which has convinced him he’s unlovable and that the villains are the only people who will ever “are” for him. He still manages to break free of them and join the heroes. Most of the descendants of the Red King are wealthy but Charlie’s family struggles financially which forces them to depend on the sinister Yewbeam sisters. There’s a lot of focus on the stress this causes the family. There aren’t a lot of physical descriptions of the heroes though I’d like to note that there are several heroic older (middle-aged and elderly) characters who aren’t glamorously youthful which isn’t as common in fiction as it should be. There’s no mention of religion. There’s no lgbtq rep.

I would also like to note that abuse is a major part of the plot and both adult and child characters are subjected to it. This badly effects a lot of them and adult characters aren’t treated as weak for still being trapped with their abusers or having residual traumas doesn’t’ stop them from being heroic. Also no abuser is forgiven.


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