- The Suspended Castle (A Philémon Adventure)
- written and illustrated by Fred
- published by Toon Books (Candlewick Press) (2015)
- Roar Score: 5/5
The Suspended Castle is the third book in the Philémon series, and it’s also (obviously) the third release in Toon Books’ English-language versions. If you’ve been reading along with the first two books, then you should already have some idea of what to expect here, in terms of tone and content.
I mean, one look at the cover is enough to tell you that you won’t be disappointed…if, that is, you came for absurd visuals and unforeseen plot twists. In short, it’s still totally insane. And an insanely good time.
As the story opens, Philémon is back home in France with Anatole (his donkey). Things are mostly normal and they’re out gathering mushrooms when they encounter Mr. Batholomew (see previous books) looking very forlorn in the woods.
Bartholomew, since being “saved” from the letter A island, has become incredibly depressed and very unhappy. He’d give anything to return to the island where everything (i.e., nothing) makes sense. So Philémon offers to help the old fellow return. However, since you can never travel to and from the islands the same way twice, he needs to inflate and walk through a giant seashell.
Well, Philémon of course gets trapped inside the shell, and the two are whisked back to the islands. But instead of the A, they end up on the dot of the i. (Remember, these islands spell out the words Atlantic Ocean.)
A sequence of ridiculous, absurd, and illogical adventures follow. And it’s great. They enter an owl lighthouse, walk along a beam of light, travel via psychedelic whale submarine, become involved in a mutiny, and battle off marauding pelicans. And that’s all before they find the titular suspended castle.
As usual, Toon Books includes a brief appendix with some factual information tied to themes and settings explored in the book. Here, we learn a bit about whaling, the Paris metro, lighthouses, and how Philémon connects to both Franz Kafka and Hayao Miyazaki.
With The Suspended Castle, we’re now three books in to the nearly indescribable Philémon series, and I’m still loving every page. Kudos to Toon Books for finally bringing these stories to an English-speaking audience. I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment, The Impossible Voyage.
(Disclosure: Toon Books provided me with a review copy of this book. All opinions remain my own.)