Review & Giveaway: “Peril in the Palace” by Marianne Hering and Paul McCusker

Review: Imagination Station #3 Peril in the Palace by Marianne Hering and Paul McCusker

Peril in the Palace is a children’s book that encourages imagination and creates an appetite for learning more about history. The story takes place in the 13th century. Cousins Beth and Patrick are the young main characters who travel back in time through Mr. Whittaker’s Imagination Station. The story is created to be a quest for the two children who eventually meet Marco Polo and the great Kublai Khan. This adventure gives the children an opportunity to share their faith with the mongols and learn more about things they have learned in history class.

What I liked most:

  • The book is just as suspenseful as the last two books in the series (Voyage with the Vikings and Attack at the Arena).
  • The book encourages children to learn more about China, Kublai Khan, Marco Polo, Mongol history, knights and more.
  • It also does a great job normalizing the historical characters. Ancient history can seem distant and larger than life, but by giving the readers an opportunity to see Kublai Khan’s family and granddaughter the book makes it easier to imagine what is actually taking place.
  • I really like the cross word puzzle at the back of the book. This puzzle helps children with their reading comprehension and learning new words.

What I liked the least:

  • The story also introduces the Roc, a mythological bird, as if it existed. Although Beth briefly mentions that she didn’t think Rocs were real, the birds have a prominent place in the story. In the story Marco Polo’s uncle Amaffeo alleges that the birds (similar to giant eagles) were large enough to carry an elephant (pg. 45). However, when dealing with children, the authors should have been more careful when mentioning these creatures. Of course these stories are fictionally, but I feel that a brief statement at the end of the book describing the mystery surrounding these birds should have made it clear that today we believe Rocs were just mythological birds that may not have existed. (FMI)
  • I also did not like the controversial doctrine regarding the state of the dead. Patrick tells Kublai Khan that his uncle and mother who were Christian’s when they died are now alive in heaven (pg. 61). However, when I read my Bible most of the texts about death say the dead are only sleeping and will one day rise again.
    • 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 (KJV) “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first”
    • Ecclesiastes 9:5 (KJV) “For the livingknow that they shalldie: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.” Here are some other texts  John 5:28 Revelation 20:1-10

Overall, the story is engaging and will keep a child’s interest. It also gives parents a chance to talk to their children about their beliefs. Additionally, the book sets the stage for growth in many areas, where the child can do follow-up research in conjunction with the story. This is definitely a book that should create dialog between parent and child.

The book is recommended for children age 7+, but I think this book has mild violence (the roc rips through the English Knight’s chain-mail armor ) and is more controversial then the others so I would say age 10+ (possibly OK for a mature 9 year old).

Click Here to learn more about the authors and the Imagination Series (the series has expanded to 12 book).

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Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of the book. But the review is from my honest opinion.


Throughout the month of July there will be an opportunity to win the 3rd and 4th books in the Imagination series: Peril in the Palace and Revenge of the Red Knight. (The Giveaway is for US residents only who are at least 18 years old. To enter  leave a comment this post letting me know why you like books. One winner will be chosen by The prize will be sent from Side Door Communications. Not required but always appreciated, readers that subscribe and follow my blog.


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