Review: The Doldrums and the Helmsley Curse

The Doldrums and the Helmsley Curse
384 pages
Genre: Children’s lit, fantasy
Published by Greenwillow, 2017
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Re-readability: I plan to come back to this one years from now.

Reviewed by Indiana
Spoiler-free review

This was such a strong follow up to The Doldrums. Everything from the humor to the whimsical nature of the storyline carried over really well.

When we last left the Helmsley’s things were a bit up in the air (or should I say on an iceberg?). Archer had been sent away to a boarding school after a less than successful, yet quite adventurous, field trip of sorts.  

This one picks up from there, starting off at a sprint and rarely slowing down.

Archer must find out what happened to his grandparents while they were supposedly floating on an iceberg for the past few years. After finding a few trunks filled with his grandparents things, the mystery of who they really are and what exactly they do only deepens.

Archer and his friends (Oliver and Adelaide) are also introduced to the society of explorers, which was hinted at in the first book. It’s an intricate web of people that fits somewhere between Dumbledore’s Army and something like Tomb Raider. There are various factions within the society that determine what sort of explorations you do and such. However, the moment Archer and co. are introduced to this seemingly magnificent society, a sinister character banishes his grandparents from it (and Archer by default).

On top of trying to find out the truth to what happened to his grandparents on the iceberg, Archer attempts to unravel why someone is trying to kick his grandparents out of the society, just as they’re about to return to their rightful place in it.

Similar to the first book in this series, there were a few similarities to Harry Potter throughout the storyline. The society had factions, just like the different houses in Hogwarts, and there was a certain sweet shop that became rather important.

Gannon added two new characters, Kana and Benjamin, which I felt like the series needed. Benjamin has a fair number of moral dilemmas and even though they seem inconsequential, they become quite important in the end. Gannon seemed to have fun writing a character who had to question the beliefs that he’d been brought up with and the people he’d grown up with.

Kana is another unique character, although we don’t really get very much of her until the second half of the book. At first she feels too much like a Luna-esque character, but she holds her own by the end of the adventure.

Gannon really grew the world in this sequel, answering a few questions I had had leftover from the first book (like why Archer’s mother is so against him doing anything fun and why his dad is sympathetic to him but doesn’t quite understand him). As several reviewers on Goodreads noted, there were typos. Though, it’s tough to find a book without a typo or two, no matter how many times it’s been edited one always seems to slip through somewhere.

Gannon managed to follow up The Doldrums with an engaging and beautifully illustrated (seriously, it’s got some of the best book art I’ve ever seen) sequel. I’m excited to see what’s up next for the storyline!

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