The Portly Lady | Critical Book Review

The Portly Lady is the second installment of Theresa Nellis’ Keeper of the Mirror series, and it plunges readers into a dark teen fantasy realm. While fans of the first book will relish the chance to rejoin familiar characters like Peter, Kate, Tom, and Zack, this novel also introduces captivating new elements to the series.

Peter’s Journey of Self-Discovery

In this sequel, 13-year-old Peter grapples with his newfound identity as a dark elf, leading him on a quest to find his place in this intricate world. The narrative explores themes of parental acceptance and loneliness as Peter finds himself torn between loyalty and jealousy. His mission? To rescue his father Bael, once again.

A Formidable Adversary

However, the primary threat doesn’t stem from typical foes but rather from an unexpected source – the portly lady, herself a dark elf. Armed with powerful relics coveted by Peter and his father, the tension escalates as questions of loyalty, betrayal, and the pursuit of power come into play.

Not Without Its Puzzles

While The Portly Lady can be approached as a standalone novel, readers are advised to start with the first book to avoid potential confusion. The narrative doesn’t provide much background from the initial installment, making it essential for continuity. Furthermore, although categorized as young adult fiction, it may be better suited for upper middle-grade readers who relish series like Harry Potter or Deltora’s Quest.

Exploring Complex Relationships

The story delves into family and friendship dynamics, offering readers the opportunity to ponder and empathize with the characters’ struggles. Peter’s desire for his father’s approval, Zack’s resentment towards his former friend – these elements resonate with the late childhood experience, providing young readers with relatable escapism.

“Then that was it. His father had left him. Abandoned him. He was alone. Again.”

Fresh Worldbuilding and a Battle of Morality

One of the highlights of the book is its innovative worldbuilding. The dark elf realm is vividly depicted, immersing readers in a world of intrigue and magic. Additionally, the novel thoughtfully explores the broader theme of good versus evil, leaving readers contemplating the shades of gray in morality.

Unresolved Stereotypes

While The Portly Lady presents a compelling narrative, it does fall short in one aspect. The portrayal of the antagonist, the portly lady, relies on traditional tropes. This reinforces negative stereotypes associated with overweight characters often being cast as villains. A more nuanced approach to the villain’s character arc would have added depth to the story.

A Satisfying Teen Fantasy

Despite this flaw, The Portly Lady remains a gratifying teen fantasy that is sure to spark excitement among young readers eagerly awaiting the next installment in the Keeper of the Mirror series.

Modern Book Details:

PublisherGenrePrint LengthISBN
Atmosphere PressMiddle Grade / Fantasy234 pages978-1639883684

The Portly Lady is the second installment of Theresa Nellis’ Keeper of the Mirror series, and it plunges readers into a dark teen fantasy realm. While fans of the first book will relish the chance to rejoin familiar characters like Peter, Kate, Tom, and Zack, this novel also introduces captivating new elements to the series.…