Literature: Children of the Red King

Children of the Red King is a series of fantasy novels by Jenny Nimmo which first began publishing in 2002. They describe the adventures of Charlie Bone.

The series begins with Charlie Bone accidentally getting the wrong photograph from the photo developer... and discovering that he can hear people talking in the photo. While he is perturbed at this development, his grandmother and great aunts inform him he has magical abilities and enroll him in Bloor's Academy where he becomes part of the music department (because of his supposedly dead father, who played the piano). At Bloor's, Charlie makes new friends, encounters strange magic, and learns all about the history of his Big Screwed-Up Family.

The books in the series are:
  • Midnight for Charlie Bone (2002)
  • The Time Twister (2003) (Also Charlie Bone and the Time Twister)
  • The Blue Boa (2004) (Also Charlie Bone and the Invisible Boy)
  • The Castle of Mirrors (2005) (Also Charlie Bone and the Castle of Mirrors)
  • Charlie Bone and the Hidden King (2006)
  • Charlie Bone and the Wilderness Wolf (2007) (Also Charlie Bone and the Beast)
  • Charlie Bone and the Shadow of Badlock (2008)
  • Charlie Bone and the Red Knight (2009)

There was also a spin-off series released in 2011, chronicling the story of the Red King and his family.

The books in the trilogy are:
  • The Secret Kingdom (2011)
  • The Stones of Ravenglass (2012)
  • Leopards' Gold (2013)

This series contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Academy of Adventure / Wizarding School: Bloor's Academy.
  • Adults Are Useless: Mostly averted. Most of the adults are fairly competent; when they're unable to help the kids it's for reasons that actually make sense, and when they do help out it makes a big difference. Plus, for every nice adult there's two who are Jerkasses or completely psychotic.
  • Animal Eyes: Asa Pike's eyes are yellow, which just adds to his wolfish demeanor.
  • Archnemesis Dad: A curse on Dagbert Endless' family ensures that when he turns thirteen, he will have to battle his father, Lord Grimwald, to the death. He wins.
  • The Assimilator: Yorath is capable of this. The victims were released upon his death, though.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Olivia Vertigo, Lysander Sage, Tancred Torsson, Gabriel Silk, Eric Shellhorn, Alice Angel, Orvil Onimous, anyone with the last name "Yewbeam"... yeah, there's a lot of these.
  • Bad Powers, Bad People: This almost seems to be the case when it comes to the endowed. Those with more destructive powers tend to be on the side of the Bloors, while those with more useless-sounding powers tend to be good. This is averted by Tancred and Lysander, who are easily the strongest of all the kids at the Academy, and who are both very firmly on Charlie's team.
  • Badass Teacher: Dr. Saltweather and Senor Alvaro, though barely mentioned at all in the final battle, make quite a team.
  • Balance Of Good and Evil: What Cook/ Treasure does. This actually is almost her downfall in the fourth book when the good children start getting systematically picked off by the bad ones.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Miss Chrystal/Titania Tilpin gets increasingly ugly after she turns out to be an evil witch.
  • Big Bad: Ezekiel Bloor, until Count Harken Badlock came around.
  • Big Friendly Dog: Runner Bean.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: The Yewbeams, definitely. The Bloors as well.
  • Body Horror: Asa when he changes from human to beast, or vice versa.
  • Bouncer: Norton Cross is a sort-of bouncer for the Pets' Cafe.
  • Butt Monkey: Poor Benjamin and his dog Runner Bean just can't catch a break.
  • Cast Calculus: Rotates through the books. Mostly involves Charlie and Billy, involves Emma and Olivia more often than not, and occasionally includes Gabriel, Tancred and Lysander.
  • Cats Are Magic: Played straight in the case of Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius, otherwise known as the Flames. They used to be leopards belonging to the Red King, and are capable of turning themselves into fire, and occasionally can resume their true forms.
  • Character Name and the X of Y: All of the books except the first in the U.S.
  • Charm Person: Joshua Tilpin, who is a human magnet in every sense of the word.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Mr. Pilgrim, who in the fifth book is revealed to be Lyell Bone, Charlie's ten-years-estranged father. He's also the Red Knight.
  • Constantly Curious: Joshua Tilpin has quite a few questions for Lord Grimwald in the last book.
  • Cool Uncle: Paton Yewbeam.
  • Creepy Twins: Idith and Inez Branko.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Paton Yewbeam, though Charlie has a few good ones.
    Charlie: It's just my grandma.
    Billy: No, Charlie, this is different. Rembrandt says it smells of bad magic and things that should be dead.
    Charlie: Like I said.
  • Disability Immunity: Billy's albinism gives him poor eyesight, which makes him immune to Hypnotic Eyes.
  • Disappeared Dad: Lyell Bone, who was hypnotized by Manfred and hidden away as a music teacher in the Academy for the next ten years. He's woken up in the fifth book and is finally reunited with his wife and son.
  • Disney Death: Tancred.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: "I think they only put 'FISH' up on that sign to explain the smell, if you catch me. And not because they're selling any."
  • Dramatis Personae: Each book has several pages at the beginning listing all the current major characters and their powers, as well as a copy of Charlie's ever expanding family tree and in later books, the family of the Red King.
  • Dysfunctional Family: The entire family at number nine Filbert Street.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Paton Yewbeam and his sister Venetia could count, as both are on the tall side and have black hair.
  • The Empath: Gabriel Silk is psychometric, which allows him to experience the thoughts and feelings of people whose clothes he puts on.
  • Everyone Is Related: Most of the main characters are related and almost everyone is descended from the Red King.
  • Evil Matriarch: Grandma Bone.
  • Evil Old Folks: Quite a few, but Ezekiel Bloor deserves special mention; he's a Grumpy Old Man taken to the extreme.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Norton Cross. Dorcas Loom, to an extent. Previously she was neutral, and even hinted to be a good person. It wasn't until Yolanda came around that she became bad.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Ezekiel Bloor attempts to bring the brutal tyrant Borlath back to life, and seemingly succeeds - except that there's no way of controlling him. It turns out that he actually brought back Queen Berenice, who was a loving mother and is compelled to protect the endowed children.
    • Before the beginning of the series, Manfred Bloor hypnotises Lyell Bone to punish him for trying to stop the abduction of Emma Tolly. He also does it partially in an attempt to discern the whereabouts of Maybelle's will (which Lyell had hidden). However, while spellbound Lyell has Laser-Guided Amnesia and as such forgets where he put the pearl-inlaid box containing the will.
  • Good Guy Bar: The Pets' Cafe.
  • Happily Adopted: Billy Raven, at the end of the series. This is unfortunately subverted earlier on when his initial adopted parents turn out to be Lawful Evil.
  • Heel-Face Revolving Door: Dagbert Endless, whose Character Alignment changes with the moon. At the end, he seems to have finally settled somewhere on the "good" spectrum. Billy Raven switches to the bad side for several books before rejoining the heroes.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Asa Pike, due to his nature as a Changer. It's implied that he actually might have rejoined the Bloors, had they not seen fit to lock him up for a few months in a cave, later on without sunlight (which is what he requires in order to be human). In other words, they deprived him of his humanity for several weeks and nearly starved him to death in the process. Their actions also led up to Asa's father being shot and killed by local hunters. It's no wonder he turned his back on them completely after that.
  • Heroic Albino: Billy Raven, though he flip-flops a bit before settling on the side of the good kids.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Christopher Crowquill, which makes him one of the very few non-evil characters to be Killed Off for Real.
    • Asa's dad was shot to death trying to defend his son from hunters.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Emma and Olivia.
  • Hypnotic Eyes: Manfred's original power, though it begins to wane to make way for a newer, much more destructive one.
  • I Never Told You My Name: Alice Angel knows Olivia's name immediately when she and Charlie walk into her shop, and uses it repeatedly. It doesn't say much for Charlie's character that he doesn't think anything is wrong until Alice also says his name. It turns out that, unknown to them Alice is Olivia's next door neighbor, godmother, and self-declared guardian angel and a friend of Charlie's Uncle Paton.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting: With a sufficient light source, Asa is human. But in the dark, he cannot retain that shape, instead automatically transforming into a beast — the eponymous "Wilderness Wolf" of the sixth book. Being trapped as an animal for too long can also have a bad effect on his sanity, though luckily he manages to hold himself together enough to not rip apart his rescuers when they come for him.
  • Kaleidoscope Hair: Olivia
  • Killed Off for Real: In addition to the aforementioned Christopher and Mr. Pike, Big Bad Manfred and his grandfather Ezekiel die at the end of the last book.
  • Kissing Cousins: Subverted. All of the endowed are descended from the Red King, but their respective families have drifted so far that they can no longer be considered related by any stretch.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters
  • Magic Enhancement: Paton Yewbeam is a "power booster", though this mainly extends just to electronics, lightbulbs in particular. He also knows how to utilize this power effectively, and even manages to fatally electrocute Yolanda with it.
  • Magic Wand: Charlie inherits one from his ancestor Mathonwy, though it can only be used by one of his bloodline speaking in Welsh. Later on after Manfred tries to destroy it, it becomes a white moth.
  • Making a Splash: Subverted with Dagbert, who drowns people by simulating the ocean. Somehow. It's implied he will inherit his father's water powers upon killing him, however.
  • Master of Illusion: Olivia Vertigo.
  • Mind over Matter: Zelda Dobinski, Beth Strong, and Idith and Inez Branko.
  • Muggle Best Friend: Benjamin Brown, Fidelio Gunn, and Olivia Vertigo until she is revealed to be endowed as well.
  • Multigenerational Household: Charlie's house up consists of him, his mother, both his grandmothers, and his great-uncle.
  • Mundane Utility: Charlie uses his wand to help him remember things he's studied for school. Olivia sometimes uses her illusion power to stir up mischief when she gets bored.
    • The endowed are generally discouraged from using their powers for "frivolous" things, however.
  • My Instincts Are Showing: Asa at times. Especially prominent where Yolanda was concerned, as he was attracted to her specifically because her powers were similar to his.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Mr. Onimous sounds a lot like ominous. He's one of the good guys though.
  • Offing the Offspring: What Lord Grimwald intends to do to Dagbert, due to their family's curse.
  • Papa Wolf: Do not kill Yolanda Yewbeam or Tancred Torsson. Their fathers will be pissed.
  • Parental Abandonment: Emma's dad, Mostaf Tolly, traded her to the Bloors for a replica of the Toledo knight when she was a baby. He eventually tries to put this right, but is murdered before he can.
  • Playing with Fire: Manfred Bloor, upon losing his hypnotism power, begins instead to develop fire powers like his ancestor Borlath. This is especially terrifying for the younger kids when the only other firestarter in the series was a cruel, brutal tyrant whose greatest sport was stated to be torture.
  • Plot-Induced Stupidity: By all rights, Tancred and Lysander as a team are powerful enough to solve just about every problem Charlie has ever struggled with — especially when it comes to the Bloor family, who are all terrified of them. Why they never seem to remember this is a mystery.
    • Tancred actually isn't very good at controlling his powers, and often has to force himself from losing control of them. Lysander doesn't really have an excuse, though.
  • Police Are Useless: Justified, since there's not much the police can do about magical crimes, especially when they've got their hands full with the mundane variety already. Though one does help Charlie's mother offscreen in the last book.
  • Portal Picture: Charlie's endowment, though it first manifests as simply hearing voices in the pictures.
  • Power Perversion Potential / Getting Crap Past the Radar: Charlie can go into any still image. Any still image. Think about it.
  • Punny Name: An example that overlaps with Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Belle Donner. Who is actually Yolanda Yewbeam.
  • School for Scheming
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Shadow/Count Harken Badlock.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Dagbert Endless, thanks to a nasty curse on his family.
  • Shapeshifting: Yorath Yewbeam and his daughter Yolanda are traditional shapeshifters, able to become literally any living thing (even plants, apparently, in Yorath's case). Emma Tolly and Asa Pike are slightly different, with Emma able to become any type of bird she wants, including made up ones, and Asa being more of a werewolf and transforming depending on how light or dark his surroundings are.
  • Ship Tease: Emma and Charlie, until it is revealed that Emma has a crush on Tancred. Olivia and Charlie would probably qualify too.
  • Stupid Scientist: Ezekiel has shades of this, crossed with Genre Blindness. He literally had no other plan for controlling Borlath except that since he was Borlath's descendant, he'd of course be obligated to help him out.
  • Sword Cane: Uncle Paton has one in his walking stick, used in the final battle. And it's electrified.
  • Superpowerful Genetics
  • Talking To Animals: Billy Raven.
  • Thirteen Is Unlucky: Lucretia, Eustacia, and Venetia Yewbeam live at 13 Darkly Wynd.
    • Parodied. They don't all live at the same house, their street has three No. 13s.
  • Unfazed Everyman: Benjamin, Fidelio, and Olivia. Until Olivia turns out to be endowed in the fourth book.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Played with. Some of the endowed have powers that initially seem lame, but most of them turn out to be Chekhov's Guns or more powerful than you'd think.

Alternative Title(s):

Charlie Bone, Children Of The Red King