65 of 65 people found the following review helpful
An enchanting fairy tale for all ages,
This review is from: The 13 Clocks (Hardcover)
It's hard to categorize "The Thirteen Clocks" -- is it a children's fairy tale? a book for grown-ups? Who cares? Readers from 5 to 95 will enjoy this wonderful book; the kids for the story and the adults for Thurber's marvelous way with words. It's a simple little fantasy tale of an abducted princess, a murderous duke, and the prince who comes to her rescue. And it starts off as all fairy tales should, with "Once upon a time..."
Thurber brings us the beautiful Princess Saralinda, the Duke of Coffin Castle who was so cold that he managed to stop time one snowy night when all thirteen clocks in the castle stopped at ten minutes to five and never started again, and Prince Zorn of Zorna, who called himself Xingu, the prince whose name begins with X and doesn't, who is the one man who can defeat the duke's evil plans and rescue Saralinda. But Thurber's best invention by far is the Golux, a spaced-out wizard whose spells have a way of backfiring from time to time, who assists Zorn in his quest to save the princess. And there is a deliciously spooky, never-seen monster called the Todal, that "smells of old, unopened rooms and sounds like rabbits screaming", who is the cold duke's infernal weapon, and, ultimately, his nemesis.
Thurber's way with words will leave you boggle-eyed. This is the quintessential read-aloud book and the kids love it. On the second or third reading they'll be chanting along with sentences like these: "The brambles and the thorns grew thick and thicker in a ticking thicket of bickering crickets..." And Thurber goes hogwild in making up all kinds of words that somehow managed to portray what he want to get across. When he tells us that the duke slits open his victims from their guggles to their zatches, you may not know exactly what is a guggle and what is a zatch, but you get the idea. And when the Todal gleeps while devouring a victim, we know just what Thurber is talking about. (Try going "gleep" way at the back of your throat and you'll see what I mean.)
"The Thirteen Clocks" is full of dark humor and the illustrations by Marc Simont are right in character -- dark, haunting and yet comical at the same time. The book is a great mix of a good story, good characters, good writing, and just plain good fun.