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Reviews of the Sleeping King

Independent Literary Reviews

In Colless’ middle-grade debut, a young boy may be a prophesied king who, according to legend, will save the world when it needs him most.

Peter Blue celebrates his 11th birthday at the Gum Tree Rest Home in Australia, where he’s spent the last five years. His parents, Byron and Thelma Blue, died in a bush fire, which he mysteriously survived. At the home, the boy finds his dad’s old Global Advanced Intelligence Agency jacket—a wearable, wi-fi–capable device. Inside a pocket is a card for “Spiral Hall / School for the Ecodemically Gifted.” The school is part of Peter’s quest, according to an old, bearded man named Tollen, who appears in his dreams. The boy reluctantly leaves his grandmother Nonna LaRosa at the home and travels to London, where he stays with his Aunty Surla (his mother’s sister) and Uncle Gorrman while attending school.

Unfortunately, Peter must cope with bullies trying to steal his dad’s jacket, and Gorrman doesn’t want his nephew to attend Spiral Hall at all. Some there think that Peter may be the Sleeping King—the destined light during dark days to come. Meanwhile, frightening beings known as Anthrogs are actively searching for Peter, and they want to prevent him from foiling their upcoming “siege on the human race.” Colless’ tale is populated by richly colorful characters, such as former millionaire Devlin Dean, who’s staying at the rest home because the bank took his mansion and other belongings.

The book is clearly a series launch, as the Anthrog Overlord and his Drones make only a couple of appearances, and there’s merely a hint of the Sleeping King’s potential power. However, readers will surely look forward to seeing more of these characters, including the other motley but endearing residents of the rest home or Pickles, a baby wallaby that Peter helps to rescue. The author expertly assembles scores of dialogue scenes involving multiple characters. The environmentalist message is also cleverly integrated: Peter’s rather unlikable aunt and uncle, for example, use plastic utensils and containers almost exclusively—and don’t recycle.

A fantasy tale featuring delightful characters that primes readers for an ongoing series.

 “The Sleeping King is a remarkable book about climate change, written by Laurel Colless. Hidden away in Gum Tree Rest Home in Australia since his parents’ murders years earlier, eleven-year-old Peter Blue is woken from his sleep by a tall stranger, Tollen, who has a very long beard and an important message. Earth is dying. Pollution levels are at an all-time high, causing floods, superstorms and wildfires and, what’s more, the Dark Ones have discovered Peter’s location. Peter must move quickly to locate the book called The Wayfinder which will guide him, not only in stopping the Anthrog forces (which feed on the stench of human greed), but also ensuring that the destructive cycle causing these disasters comes to a screeching halt.  

Laurel Colless has presented one of the most well-written and exciting books I have read in a very long time, which not only entices children to read about important issues which affect the future of life and the future of our planet. Embedded in such tragedy at a young age, the main character of the story – Peter Blue – has talents which instill hope and warmth and love for this planet that is so deep. Having been raised in Australia and surviving one of the worst firestorms in Australian history, I remember all too well growing up in the bush. For me, reading The Sleeping King was like watching a Cinemax film with subtitles – every single detail was written so well that the images played out perfectly in my mind. At one stage, I thought it might be on a story line par with The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – but only the wardrobe was the star of the scene, leading to more amazing secrets of Peter’s past. The rescue of the baby wallaby was both heart-wrenching and inspiring, causing me to both laugh and cry in so many places.  

With our planet being abused and climate change being held as fake by some of the biggest players in the crime scene, I feel it is absolutely imperative that The Sleeping King be read by all people, young and old, as the harsh facts are being swept under the carpet far too often. I enjoyed The Sleeping King immensely and feel it should be stocked in libraries at home, school, hospital, social offices and more. This is a message which is too important to ignore. I applaud Laurel Colless for her brilliant tale and look forward to reading further titles by this talented author in the future.”



“The Sleeping King by Laurel Colless is a good fantasy read for children, warm and delightful, a story that is sprinkled with elements of mythology and magic. Eleven-year-old Peter Blue could be the incarnation of the powerful king who, upon his death, said he’d come back at the appointed time, because he spends his time sleeping. And that is until a strange man wakes Peter up from sleep and asks him to save the world. 

Having lived in the Gum Tree Rest Home in the Australia bush all his life after his parents’ demise in a bush fire accident, can anything be strong enough to rouse Peter from his sleeping state? In the pocket of Dad’s jacket from the Global Advanced Intelligence Agency (GAIA), he will find a clue that gets him interested in the adventure of a lifetime, a card for Spiral Hall--a secret school for those with special skills. But he now has something coveted by the evil Anthrog that feed on human greed and are a powerful threat to the world. He has the key to get the Anthrog to where they badly want to be — GAIA — but can Peter outwit them and save the world before it’s too late? 

A great story with exciting themes and characters. The themes in this fantasy tale include issues related to climate change. I enjoyed the characters, including Rani the frog, Peter the protagonist, and others. The dialogues are lively, indicating the author’s gift for humor and allowing character development to evolve. The Sleeping King is utterly entertaining and the writing is confident, balanced, and focused. The symbolism in this story is striking and the Anthrog represent the indifference and the human greed that is killing the earth. This is the kind of book that can used to raise awareness in children on global warming and other social issues threatening humankind.” 

Review by Christian Sia

Reviewed By: Christian Sia for Readers’ Favorite

Review Rating: 5 Stars - Congratulations on your 5-star review! 

Review by Rosie Malezer

Reviewed By: Rosie Malezer for Readers’ Favorite

Review Rating: 5 Stars - Congratulations on your 5-star review!