This Week’s Word Is “Skulk.”
Word Wednesday is back after a couple of weeks hiatus, during which we prepared for the return to school and other life things happened. We’re back with a beautiful children’s puzzle book from Laurence King called Skulk. Laurence King makes one of my favorite maze/puzzle books of all time, Pierre the Maze Detective, so I had high hopes for Skulk too. I was not disappointed.
It has a Maze that folds out into a large cube.
Yes. A maze that is a cube.
In a book.
It’s awesome and worth picking up just for that!
What is Skulk?
Skulk is a slim hardback crammed full of mazes and puzzles. Written and designed by Robin Etherington, Skulk is vividly brought to life by the illustrations of Renaud Vigourt. Skulk is evidence of a happy marriage between author and illustrator.
The book’s opening premise is that Skulk is a shadow, who is inseparable from his partner, “the boy.” In a comic strip introduction, Skulk and the boy find an ancient map, which leads them to a castle (brilliantly named “Castle Chiaroscuro”) and some barely guarded treasure. This, of course, is a trap. Skulk falls deep beneath the castle, torn from the boy and so begins his quest to return to the surface so they can be reunited.
Skulk consists of 11 puzzles, the majority of which contain a maze element. Of the two puzzles that don’t contain a maze, one of them is a word puzzle and the other is a numerical puzzle, with visual clues. The mazes come in all different types, with interesting quirks, such as charting the course of a beam of light around a hall of mirrors, or connecting pictures in the ancestral gallery. There are also a number of masks for you to find as you traverse the castle. (Masks? Very on-trend for 2020!)
Why Read Skulk?
Much as with Hoakes Island, another excellent Laurence King puzzle book, Skulk is a pleasure to hold in your hands. Even though the mazes are intended for children, they’re fun for adults to pore over too. The drawings are excellent and the mazes’ quirky extras, give you something to think about beyond getting from point A to point B.
If I had a criticism of the book, it’s that sadly, the center page fold occasionally causes issues. It’s impossible to fold the pages completely flat, so some detail on the binding is obscured. It’s not a big thing, but it’s there, and not an easy problem to solve because of how bookbinding works.
Nevertheless, Skulk is an excellent maze book, that should keep children diverted for a good few hours as they unlock its secrets. As I mentioned at the beginning of the review, the highlight is the cube maze, which is a top-quality piece of paper engineering and an idea so elegant, you have to wonder why we don’t see this sort of thing more regularly in maze books. If a cube maze wasn’t enough, it even has portals that much up across the faces of the cube so you can travel from one side to another as you try to find your way! The cube is definitely one of Skulk’s highlights; your kids will love it and they’ll want to show it off to everyone they meet.
I’ve really enjoyed Skulk. It’s the best book of its type I’ve seen in a while. It’s an engaging, highly atmospheric book for everybody who loves a maze.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to write this review. My US book link is an affiliate link.