Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Advances overall story; tons of magical fun
Cons: Characters still weak
The Bottom Line:
Story in two times
And turns DisNerds green
Hunting for Walt’s Pen
As a DisNerd, I have always loved the idea behind the Kingdom Keepers novels. Five teens who get to wander the Disney theme parks at night at holograms? What’s not to love? For The Return, the sequel trilogy, author Ridley Pearson upped his game, and I couldn’t stop wishing I were the Kingdom Keepers as I read Legacy of Secrets.
You see, as the last book ended, the Kingdom Keepers found themselves having traveled through time to Disneyland opening day in 1955. (And after dealing with holograms fighting Disney villains, this isn’t much of a stretch at all.) Yes, they are on a mission. It seems that Walt Disney’s pen, a pen with magic in it, has disappeared and the five teens must find it and make sure it is preserved so when they need it in the future it is there for them. Teaming up with a young Wayne, Finn and the rest have to follow clues left by Walt himself to uncover its hiding place.
Meanwhile, in the present, Amanda and Jess are uncovering secrets of their own. While trying to find a way to help the Kingdom Keepers return when their mission is over, they stumble upon a buried piece of Disney history that could explain everything that has happened. What does it all mean?
The book balances the two time lines perfectly. Both are engaging, and both dovetail off each other nicely. We learn some things that explain a lot about the characters and what has happened previously in the series here, things I didn’t know I cared about but was thrilled to learn.
Quite often, the middle part of a trilogy knows it is such and feels like a placeholder. While we didn’t get the action and fights with the villains we would normally have in this series, the pace never slowed. The trail the Kingdom Keepers were following in the past was interesting, and the secrets that we were learning in the present were just as page turning. It’s a different kind of story for the series, but it absolutely works.
Of course, part of that may have been my jealousy coming through. I couldn’t help but be green at times as I read about what the Kingdom Keepers were seeing and experiencing. I would love to be able to go back to 1955 and see Disneyland as it was when it first opened. Again, I’m jealous of these characters, and loved living vicariously through them.
The one flaw of the series continues here – the characters could be better. They are strong enough to care about them, but they never feel completely real to me. Of course, I have read about them for how many books now? Obviously, it isn’t a huge issue for me. Fortunately, the characters have few conflicts with each other here, something that could really annoy in earlier adventures. Also, the young Wayne we get to know here loses his 50’s “Golly gee” type slang not too far into the book. If it had continued the entire way through, that would have been very annoying.
While this book is the middle of a trilogy, this trilogy is a sequel series to a seven book series. It does its best to introduce things, but to really follow and appreciate what we learn here, you need to back up and start from the beginning.
I’m anxious to find out what these new revelations (and the ending of this book) mean for the Kingdom Keepers, their friends, and the Disney legacy, so I will be waiting impatiently for the final book to come out this spring. In the meantime, pick up Legacy of Secrets and be ready for another magical adventure.
If you need the history to fully understand this book, here are the rest of the Kingdom Keepers novels.
This review is part of this week's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.