Review: ‘The Cracks in the Kingdom’ by Jaclyn Moriarty

Review: ‘The Cracks in the Kingdom’ by Jaclyn MoriartyThe Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty
Series: The Colours of Madeleine #2
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books on 2014-03-25
Format: Hardcover
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Princess Ko's been bluffing about the mysterious absence of her father, desperately trying to keep the government running on her own. But if she can't get him back in a matter of weeks, the consequence may be a devastating war. So under the guise of a publicity stunt she gathers a group of teens -- each with a special ability -- from across the kingdom to crack the unsolvable case of the missing royals of Cello.

Chief among these is farm-boy heartthrob Elliot Baranski, more determined than ever to find his own father. And with the royal family trapped in the World with no memory of their former lives, Elliot's value to the Alliance is clear: He's the only one with a connection to the World, through his forbidden communications with Madeleine.

Through notes, letters, and late nights, Elliot and Madeleine must find a way to travel across worlds and bring missing loved ones home. The stakes are high, and the writing by turns hilarious and suspenseful, as only Jaclyn Moriarty can be.

Jaclyn Moriarty is definitely one of the most creative and witty authors out there. I read her book The Year of Secret Assignments and was fascinated by her writing. Her books revolve around unique premises, and are filled with humor, philosophy, and entertaining ramblings. They touch on serious topics, but are never depressing. I always know what to expect when I pick up one of her books, and I always enjoy them. A lot.

I have so many words I want to use to describe The Cracks in the Kingdom, so here’s my list: clever, strange, whimsical, original, enchanting, intoxicatingly creative, deep, complex, beautiful, quirky, delightful, artful, and of course, hilarious. Whew. I mean every one of these adjectives, so I didn’t want to forget to mention any. There’s just so many aspects to Moriarty’s writing and elements of the book that need to be mentioned.

tumblr_n48vacdKMR1s0tbc4o1_500As in the first book, A Corner of White, the Kingdom of Cello is just as magical and exciting as ever. Sometimes vicious and sometimes wonderful color attacks occur across the kingdom, deftball players leap and rough each other up, and incredibly delicious treats bake in homes around The Farms. Only in this book, we get to travel all over the kingdom seeing different provinces — the Magical North and its perma-winter, Jagged Edge and its highly technologized and party-loving culture, and the charmingly crazy Olde Quainte. Learning more about Cello was nothing short of delightful — can I go back? Jagged Edge was especially fascinating.

The Cracks in the Kingdom added so much complexity, definitely proving itself to be better than the first book. The Royal Family having been forcibly transported to the World means that the book revolves around a new and exciting quest to find them and bring them home, all executed by the new Royal Youth Alliance (RYA). New characters from the RYA join the cast, providing for some major character diversity and a lot of laughs. And as their written exchanges become deeper, Madeleine and Elliot’s relationship intensifies.

a94f67e625e227dd61326139eae24f20This last element was perhaps my favorite. It was refreshing to read about a younger teenage relationship after having read so many other YA romances (between older characters) that are so much more serious and consuming. The feelings between Elliot and Madeleine are so pure, fragile, and tentative. There is so much hope, and also so much caution. It is a beautiful thing to behold, this falling, this orbiting of each other, this alignment of fractured pieces. It isn’t overwhelming in the book, but I was still rooting for them. They are friends looking for support that find a little more.

6aa47c11d5eba555bf905b246416d2e1And if I didn’t quite appreciate it enough in the last book, Moriarty’s writing blew me away in this book. Possibly to another kingdom. She weaves together so many seemingly unrelated things — physics, magic, philosophy, and family — so that they become one tapestry of brilliance. Madeleine especially contemplates so many things it makes my head spin. When I’m reading everything in this book seems to come alive and is awash in color ( in fact, I’d be interested in seeing Kayla @ The Thousand Lives do one of her Saturated Reads on this series). Moriarty is a master of detail, comparisons, and pretty much everything else. And it says something that this book is incredibly quote-worthy, if you can’t already tell by all these pictures.

The only (very slight) issue I have with The Cracks in the Kingdom is its length. It approaches 500 pages (it’s 467), and I felt like the beginning was a little slow, especially since I read the first book so long ago. But this problem dried up in my mind when I began to hit the major events in the book, and then I didn’t want it to end. Aaaack. Seriously, the next book doesn’t even have a publication date or Goodreads profile yet! >:(

Quirky but delightful, I fell hard for this one. It bursts with creativity, and Moriarty’s nearly indescribable writing blew me away.


  • I’ve never heard of this series before, but I’m adding it to my ever expanding to read list. You made it sound so good! When you mentioned witty writing, I was there.
    Molly Mortensen recently posted…The Seven Deadly Sins of BooksMy Profile

    • It’s definitely unique, so it’s probably not for everyone, but I always enjoy them! They’re funny, creative, and intellectual. Basically, Jaclyn Moriarty is a master. And awesome because she’s from Australia.

  • That’s such a cute cover! I can’t say I’m very interested in this series, though, because while I liked The Unwanteds, it didn’t engage me enough to make me want to read the sequels. All the same, I’m glad that you enjoyed this one overall, Lina — at least it didn’t fall under the second-book syndrome, that’d just be horrible. T_T

    I love it when sequels expand more on the world and not forget about it completely. And of course, it’s a huge plus when the sequel turns out to be better than the first book! I don’t know about you, but most of the YA series I’ve read so far have had strong first books but weaker sequels, which is so disappointing.

    The feelings between Elliot and Madeleine are so pure, fragile, and tentative. There is so much hope, and also so much caution.” — I totally get what you mean! I have nothing against the more serious relationships between older characters, of course, but younger and fresher relationships would definitely be refreshing to read about. Also, I’m kind of relieved that romance doesn’t overtake the plot or the friendship between these two characters.

    GORGEOUS review, Lina. Your words were just so poetic and lyrical here, I’m almost tempted to give the series a go because you described it in such a beautiful way! I’m just not sure if it’s the genre for me, though — I tend to prefer darker books, haha.
    Megan (Adrift on Vulcan) recently posted…This Week: How Do You Cope?My Profile

    • The first book has an even cuter cover. And I agree about the Unwanteds — I never read the sequel, either. It was just the only thing I could even think to compare it to.

      This book didn’t have one single symptom of 2nd book syndrome! That was a relief. I don’t like to think of all the series I haven’t finished (or struggled to finish) because of a weak 2nd book.

      Madeleine and Elliot are just so cute, hehe.

      *Pssh* Aww, thanks! I have to give the book some credit, though — I think some of its beautiful writing rubbed off on me! 😉 I definitely love my darker books, too, but this book felt so refreshing! Reading too many of the serious books in a row leave me feeling a bit jaded.

      P.S. I love your long comments! I smile whenever I read them 🙂

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