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The Robe of Skulls: The First Tale from the Five Kingdoms

(Tales from the Five Kingdoms #1)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  1,287 ratings  ·  255 reviews
Fire up your cauldron for an exuberant, fast-moving, wildly entertaining tale with a cast of characters who are good, bad, and very, very ugly.

High above the mountain village of Fracture, trouble is brewing. The sorceress Lady Lamorna wants a skull-studded gown of deep black velvet, but her treasure chest is empty of gold. That doesn’t stop her, however — from kidnapping,
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published July 8th 2008 by Candlewick Press (first published June 4th 2007)
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Average rating 3.74  · 
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 ·  1,287 ratings  ·  255 reviews

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Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Tasha for

Just above the town of Fracture lies a ghastly castle with an even ghastlier occupant, Lady Lamorna, who is just plain freaky. Her latest wish is a magnificent black velvet gown that is studded with skulls. When she goes to pay for it she finds that her treasure chest is empty. Instead of canceling her order, Lady Lamorna concocts a plan to pay for the dress.

Her plan includes a couple of members of the royal party, some frogs, and blackmail.

Then there is G
Oct 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The Robe of Skulls” has a very neat plot with several interesting characters: Gracie and Prince Marcus, Lady Lamorna and Gubble, Foyce and Mange (Gracie’s step-sister and father), not forgetting the two bats, Marlon and his daughter Millie who serve as guides and protectors. The wicked Lady Lamorna is short of cash and devises a cruel plan to generate income; her cunning plan is taken over by the even more cunning Foyce. At the same time Gracie escapes from her unpleasant home situation and mee ...more
I think my niece (age nine) would really, really like this. I'll pass it on to her.
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The kid in me had a great time reading this one 🤗
Sondra Santos
Jul 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm nearly finished with this fast-paced read from Candlewick Press.

Vivian French is a fabulous writer and the plot, characters and even the names of the people and places come together superbly to create a believable fantasy world of sorcerers, wizards, goblins and laugh-out-loud situations that will appeal to readers of all ages.

This is book one in a series and I can't wait to discover more.
Tamora Pierce
Nov 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Holly Black's Spiderwick fans, Lemony Snicket fans who like fantasy
Recommended to Tamora by: I just saw it on the shelves and liked both cover and premise
What great fun! Advisor bats, a half-werewolf beautiful enemy, and a spell for turning royals into frogs! I think Holly Black's Spiderwick fans would like this one--I certainly did!
Darshan Elena
Mar 04, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The title and cover were far better than the story itself.
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really really really good book with a mix of everything. Definitely one of the best books I've read. Yeah.
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great series, very imaginative and thrilling
Kasey H
Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the time that we've had no Good Reads, I have started a new book! This book, nobody has really heard about. I'm still trying to figure out if this book is part of a series or not. Well, by now, your probably wondering what book I'm about to write about. Robe of Skulls! Yes! That is the book I'm reading! The Robe of Skulls, is by Vivian French. Very fancy name, right? The authors name contributes to how fancy this book is. While I'm talking about what's so fancy, I might as well tell you abou ...more
Tina Rath
Jun 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A friend drew my attention to this book, as it looked like my sort of thing and it is, it so is. From the very beginning when the evil (but ageing) sorceress Lady Lamorna is introduced thinking about ordering a new gown in black velvet, embroidered with spiders’ webs, poison ivy and skulls, with ‘rows and rows of dear little skulls sewn all along the hem’ and ‘layers and layers of blood-red petticoats’ I knew I was at home (I want that gown too). But she needs gold to pay the Ancient Crones and
Oct 02, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 4th-7th grade fairy tale fans
Shelves: children-s, ya
Lady Lamorna - a down on her luck sorceress - orders a new robe of skulls from the Ancient Crones and then has to figure out how to pay for it. With a little help from her troll slave, she decides to turn princes into frogs, then offer her services (at a steep price) to their families in order to change them back.
In the meantime, Gracie Gillypot longs for a better life away from her nasty stepfather and her evil stepsister, Foyce. With the help of a talking bat, Gracie escapes her stepfamily an
Apr 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm pretty sure this is up there as one of my favourite children's books.

Gracie Gillypot, a Trueheart, lives with her abusive stepfather and stepsister. Marcus, the scruffiest prince you'll ever meet, wants to escape from a royal family outing and go exploring for adventure instead. Lady Lamorna, a delightfully evil sorceress, simply wants a new gown. I've yet to mention the bats and the Ancient Crones, and Gubble the troll, and the royal families of four other kingdoms besides Marcus's.

This is
The Library Lady
Aug 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vivian French says on the jacket that she had FUN writing this and it shows. Bet it was a nice break from those "Tiara Club" books my daughter is so addicted to...

No, this is fun, with lots of evil characters (but nothing too scary), good winning over evil and a happy ending that might lead to a sequel, or just might not. It would be fine either way.
Sep 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s-books
Lovely! A mix of Matilda, Harry Potter, and The Phantom Toll Booth! Nice, slightly macabe illustrations and several amusing, intertwining stories full of talking bats, blood read petticoats, old crones, and frog princes. And in the end, good triumphs over evil, as it should in such a fairy tale!
Oct 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
A great romping adventure. I loved both the Truehearts and the villains, especially the wickedest step sister ever, but it was the chatty bats who kept me laughing the whole way through. I now want my own fleet of friendly bats to pop by daily and say “Keep it up, kiddo!”
Jan 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I would not have chosen this book based on the cover art. But, hey, the cover art is kind of misleading, so good thing I picked it up! This is an entertaining and enjoyable fractured fairytale, not a story about a creepy lady obsessed with death and/or skulls.
Christina *Cantarella*
This book is probably the only fairytale filled with epicness.
Amuba Iler
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kaylee M
Nov 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
French, Vivian The Robe of Skulls, 208 p. Candlewick, 2008. Language - G.

Lady Lamorna has the perfect vision of a new gown in her head and has placed the order with the Ancient Crones, but her treasure chest is empty. Meanwhile, Gracie Gillypot is determined to escape the clutches of her mean stepfather and her truly evil stepsister. With the help of a wily bat, she steps right into a great deal of trouble and has to take up a challenge to thwart her own stepsister to avert a greater evil.

Shazza Maddog
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an absolutely wonderful book for tweens, about a prince who doesn't want to be and a girl who's stepsister and stepfather treat her terribly, and a very old sorceress who wants enough money to pay for a robe of skulls.

Oh, and a couple of bats.

And a troll who has a tendency to lose his head.

And the Ancient Crones.

Did I mention Glee the pony and the donkeys?

Just love this book!
First in the Five Kingdoms series.

Lady Lamorna orders a fancy new gown, but realizes too late that she has no money to pay for it. She decides to turn a few princes into toads and then ask their families to pay a steep price for the restoration of their children. A Cinderella-ish Girl, a rebellious prince, and a couple of chatty bats race to foil the plot.

Cute adventure for upper elementary readers.
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
A fun, easy read. It starts with a sorceress ordering a fabulous new dress, which she now needs to scramble to pay for. Thus starts an adventure with a brave Trueheart girl and a prince going off to save a bunch of other royals.

I'm not sure what makes people a True or Falseheart. The stepsister (I'd like to know if the parents really did get married, or if that was all untrue) was incredibly evil for no real reason.
Sean Harding
The first book in a series from French. To be honest sometimes this style of book grabs me, but generally speaking I can find it difficult to A) get into and B) maintain interest.
This was the case with this one, it was hard work, I got there and I will continue with the series, but I think i will be finding it difficult to connect totally. We live and learn and you never know what will happen with the next book.
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was such a fun book to read! I loved all the characters names and personalities. It was super easy to picture in my mind. I even felt like I was going on the adventure with the characters. The author was very creative with the settings and story line and I loved it! It was not a cliche fantasy book at all. It was filled with creativity and imagination. This is a great quick read for anyone who is looking for a fun adventure to embark on.
Ginny Kaczmarek
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great introduction to a fun series. Loved the upside-down fairytale feeling--where the Trueheart is considered a bad thing, until it isn't--and the weaving together of familiar tropes with fresh humor. Nice for the budding Goths (and anyone with an affinity for the brothers Grimm).
Candice Lamb
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was drawn to this by the front cover, a rather glamorous old witch with a gown made of skulls and poison ivy. The story is full of everything you’d expect from a take of a witch, spooky spells, enchanted forests and talking bats. Brilliant
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not a really god book. I didn't like that they were always moving from place to place. The book itself was easy but, it was also enjoyable. Some people might like it. It also has a very strong fantasy element.
Derelict Space Sheep
A short, fun, fairy tale influenced middle grade fantasy, brought vividly to life by Nigel Planer’s audiobook reading. French integrates several familiar elements while often employing a humorous slant or unexpected interpretation, such as with the three Fates and their penitent weaving.
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Vivian French was best known in school for being extremely skinny and for talking a lot. At school she developed an attachment to words and later became an actor, then a storyteller, and finally a writer of children's books. She is the author of more than two hundred books. Ms. French lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, and has four grown daughters.

Other books in the series

Tales from the Five Kingdoms (6 books)
  • The Bag of Bones (Tales from the Five Kingdoms, #2)
  • The Heart of Glass  (Tales from the Five Kingdoms, #3)
  • The Flight of Dragons  (Tales from the Five Kingdoms, #4)
  • The Music of Zombies (Tales from the Five Kingdoms, #5)
  • The Snarling of Wolves (Tales from the Five Kingdoms, #6)

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