Book Review: “The Crimson Skew” by S.E. Grove


The highly anticipated (by me) final volume of S.E. Grove’s Mapmakers Trilogy is finally here! In The Crimson Skew, Sophia Tims is just as determined as ever to find her missing parents – but that’s far from her only concern. The corrupt Prime Minister Broadgirdle has authorized an unjust war that just might tear the very fabric of their world apart. And Sophia and her friends are right in the thick of it.

I honestly think that the first two books of this trilogy (especially The Glass Sentence) are two of the most underrated fantasies for young readers that have been published in recent years. They’ve both received plenty of critical acclaim, and yet not many people that I know have actually read them. I’m telling you now: you should! I love these books so much that I was almost reluctant to start The Crimson Skew, knowing it was the last installment. But of course the temptation eventually became too great, and I’m not surprised to say that I really enjoyed Sophia’s final adventure.

Whereas The Glass Sentence could almost stand on its own, The Crimson Skew is very much a continuation of the events that were set in motion at the end of The Golden Specific, and Grove doesn’t fail to disappoint in tying up pretty much every loose thread you could think of. At just over 400 pages, the novel is already long for a middle-grade title, and since the series is definitively ending with this installment, Grove did have to rush a little bit at times. There is, after all, a lot to cover: Shadrack is being blackmailed by Broadgirdle, Theo has been conscripted into the army, a mysterious crimson fog is striking the countryside and causing dangerous visions, and Sophia still doesn’t understand the map that’s supposed to lead to her parents. Towards the end, especially, I had to chuckle when several critical plot points were covered in the span of two sentences. Still, Grove’s tactic is effective – quick resolutions like this keep the focus on the action.

Like in the other two volumes of the series, the real star of The Crimson Skew is Grove’s imagination, which never ceases to both captivate and surprise me. Sophia’s world, split across time, is full of enchanting wonders, and this book allows a few more of them to be revealed to the reader.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.