In the light of recent news events in the UK, The Beast of Buckingham Palace by David Walliams, is stuck with a rather unfortunate title. Thankfully, the beast in question here is of the mythical variety, as Walliams dips his toe into the world of Fantasy. Set in a dystopian London in the year 2120, this is Prince Alfred’s story. Dark forces are at work in Buckingham Palace, and sickly, bookish Alfred must summon his inner hero and confront the threat, not only to the royal family, but ultimately the entire world.
London in the 22nd century is a grim affair. Our planet, ravaged by humankind for centuries, has finally taken its revenge, with flood, fire, and plumes of volcanic ash snuffing out the sun and plunging us into ‘eternal winter.’
Startlingly, democratic rule has also been upended and the UK is once again ruled by the monarchy, to all appearances headed by an uncharismatic King Alfred. Of course, all is not as it seems. Lurking behind the throne is the sinister Lord Protector and his mysterious leather bound volume, The Book of Albion. We are about to witness ‘evil in its purest form.’
Just like Santa, Walliams can be relied upon to deliver every Christmas and here we have another lively romp with accompanying cast of eccentric characters.
The young heir to the throne, Prince Alfred has never seen the world outside Buckingham Palace. Walliams places a huge burden on his puny shoulders as he forces Alfred to Deal not only with a dastardly usurper but also the rumble of impending revolution and a (literally) torturous trip to the Tower of London. Add a phalanx of mythical creatures and you have an absolute riot of a book.
Walliams’ books often employ somewhat formulaic writing and repetitive characterisation, and here it occasionally grates a little, an observation I suspect would be merrily waved away by his squillions of young readers.
A fabulously illustrated, boisterous crowd pleaser.
The Beast of Buckingham Palace by David Walliams is published by Harper Collins, 464 pages.