Kingdom Keepers VI Dark Passage by Ridley Pearson

Written by George Taylor. Posted in Disney, Features, The Disney Review

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Published on May 11, 2013 at 1:00 am with 3 Comments

Kingdom Keepers VI: Dark Passage is the sixth book of a seven book cycle. It was released in April without a lot of fanfare, which surprised me. Originally, the Kingdom Keepers series was planned as a trilogy, but the success of the first two books prompted a longer tale. (Check out my reviews of books 1-5.) The question is whether this is a still a valid and enjoyable series.

The Kingdom Keepers evolved from a new technology created by the Disney Imagineers as a way of providing virtual, interactive hosts for the Disney theme parks. Called DHI or Disney Host Interactive, the Kingdom Keepers are holographic projections based on five Orlando teens who were offered the opportunity to have their likeness used for the holographic hosts. As the series progressed, we learned that the DHIs were also created to save the Magic Kingdom from the Overtakers. An old-guard Imagineer initiated the DHIs to help battle the league of Disney villains that were intent on overtaking the Magic Kingdom. During the day, the DHIs functioned as tour guides. At night, the teens can cross over in a holographic state and battle the Overtakers while their physical bodies sleep. The big danger is that if something happens to their holograms, it happens to their physical bodies, too.

If you look at reviews of the Kingdom Keepers, you’ll find two camps: unabashed love and unabashed disdain. Most tweens and teens that are obsessed with the Disney theme parks find themselves immersed in the fantasy that Pearson has created. Most Disney nerds take umbrage with the fantasy world and the compromises that Pearson takes with the geography of the Vacation Kingdom of the World. Pearson actually apologized for his geographic transgressions but still must have felt the sting from Disney fanboys worldwide.

Me? I took issue with the geographical problems but overlooked them because I enjoyed the story so much. Granted, you have to suspend some disbelief, but Pearson creates very believable characters that struggle with the same issues as their non-literary peers. Tweens and teens are going to find themselves rooting for the Kingdom Keepers and wishing they could join the fight.

Throughout the series, the power and roles of the Overtakers has grown dramatically. Whereas Pearson creates strong heroic characters, his villains seem rather flat and one-sided. For the uninitiated, the Overtakers are the embodiment of the darker characters that the Disney Studios created for their animated films. They’ve been there all the time, sort of like how the villains had been hiding New Fantasyland all along. Until the special dragon discovered it.

The majority of books five and six take place on the Disney Dream. After reading both titles, I really felt like they could have been combined into one book. Pearson seemed to stretch out the plot and timeline unnecessarily in order to fill pages; that’s my biggest complaint about the two latest books. I felt like a lot of the story was unnecessary, especially the ill-fated battles between the Overtakers and the Kingdom Keepers. Pearson develops the tension but there is a lot lost with the day-to-day life of the Kingdom Keepers on the cruise ship.

If you’ve been following the series, then Dark Passage is a good addition. It gets the Kingdom Keepers and the Overtakers one step closer to Disneyland, the only real place for the finale. It’s a little darker than the other books; each book seemed to get darker by degrees, but they’re still fair game for most teens.

We interviewed Ridley on Communicore Weekly about the series and his research trips. Check it out!


Have you been following the series? What do you think about the Kingdom Keepers?


By George Taylor

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About George Taylor

George has been obsessed with Disney theme parks since the first time he saw a photo of the Haunted Mansion in the early 70s. He started writing about Disney in 2007 and has amassed one of the world's largest Disney-related libraries.

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Comments for Kingdom Keepers VI Dark Passage by Ridley Pearson are now closed.

  1. George, I must be living under a rock, because I’ve never heard of this series of books. Looks like they are targeted to Teens/Tweens . But are they a fun read for adults as well?

    • As to whether they are enjoyable for adults coming from the perspective of a guy in my early thirties who has really enjoyed some of the current YA fiction out there…

      My wife and I “read’ the first couple books via audio book in the car. We both really enjoyed the first book, and not so much the second book. We have never gone looking for book three.

      Our problem with the second book may in fact be that we have never been to Florida. The Magic Kingdom in the first book is similar enough to the Disneyland that we know and love that we were drawn into that aspect of the story primarily. The second book had no ties to us in “nostalgia etc.” department whatsoever, so the story had to stand upon the merits of the characters themselves, and it just didn’t. I found myself very annoyed with their actions and decisions for most of the book. I did not find the “very believable characters” that George mentions in his review, but that may be because I stopped at book two.

      Having said all that, I would still suggest checking it out. If the last book does in fact take place in Disneyland I may make the effort to catch up myself.

  2. I’ve read all the books, just finished Dark Passage yesterday, and I agree that the last two books weren’t as enjoyable as the others. For me the main reason is that they take place mostly on the ship, a location I haven’t been and have no personal reference of. All I know about the cruise ships is what I’ve read in article posted online, whereas I’ve been to the parks and can easily visualize the places in the earlier books.
    The other main problem with the last two books was as you pointed out, they could have been a single book. Neither one had a true conclusion, just an abrupt ending that sets up for the next book.