REVIEW: ALL THE KING’S-MEN, by Adam Dreece

71iL99WEEvLThis one’s gonna be a bit tricky, so bear with me.  The tl;dr version is this: if you’ve enjoyed the previous Yellow Hoods books (and you should have!) you’ll enjoy Adam Dreece’s ALL THE KING’S-MEN.  I have a couple of gripes about this particular volume, and I’ll fill you in on them, but I think they’re less problems with the book itself and more an issue of the author zigging when I wanted him to zag.  In general, you should be reading this.

Let’s address an elephant in the room, too: see that hyphen in King’s-Men?  Did your eye twitch just a little bit when you saw that hyphen?  Did you, perhaps, think oh, God, he didn’t put a typo right into the title of the book, did he?

Worry not.  They actually address it in the story, and it ends up being relevant, believe it or not.  Pay more attention to the awesome King’s-Horse (yep, another hyphen) and the Yellow Hood with the mechanical horse riding it.(*)  Dreece has always called his series emergent steampunk, meaning a world that is not quite a steampunk world but is on its way, and Book 3 takes some large strides in that direction.  The biggest difference between ATK-M and the previous volumes in the series is Dreece’s willingness to broaden his story.  This book begins with a map, and while I think the map has appeared in at least one of the previous volumes this has been the first one where I thought it was necessary.  What started as a story about a young girl named Tee and the cool club she and a few of her friends were in has gotten much larger and much, much more complicated.

Which is either a weakness or a strength, depending on how you look at it.  If you enjoy Dreece’s worldbuilding, you’ll see much more of that here.  I found, unfortunately, that I missed the titular Hoods, who are in the story, but aren’t really the focus of the story as much as they have been in previous books.  Tee herself isn’t remotely as present as she has been, and spends most of her time on-page being pissed off.  Is this automatically a weakness?  Not necessarily; again, Dreece is going a different direction from maybe where I wanted him to, but that’s his prerogative as an author.  The worldbuilding is unique and cohesive, the villains dastardly, and the backstory is interesting and well-integrated into the rest of the story.  It’s just not quite what I wanted.  And while the book is still YA, it’s an order more complicated than the previous books, and at least one character’s arc ends up dark by the end of the book.  So maybe be prepared for that.

All in all, though?  I’ll be back for Book Four, which I believe has just finished first-draft status and is moving into editing now.  I’m going to make sure to reread the previous volumes before it comes out, too.  Go check it out.

(*) I said this in my review of Book One (I appear to not have reviewed Book Two, which surprises me,) but Dreece’s cover artist is spectacular, and I want to steal her for a project in the future.  Just not sure which one.