The Thirteenth Fairy

In the quiet and uneventful town of North Pasadena, California, Filomena Jefferson-Cho finds adventure with her favorite book series, Never After, where magic and fairy tale characters exist. On her way to purchase the thirteenth and final book of the Never After series, Filomena discovers strange things have been happening.

First, the author of the series has mysteriously disappeared. Second, Filomena is being followed by a strange boy dressed as Jack Stalker, the main hero of the Never After books. Deciding the boy is just a Never After fan and not a potential murderer or kidnapper, Filomena turns to greet him but is interrupted by the sudden crash of a thunderbolt and the shrieking sound of an ogress. As she flees from danger, Filomena realizes the boy following her is in fact the real Jack Stalker and, Never After, a world full of famous fairy tale characters, is real.

Filomena inadvertently follows Jack and his best friend, Alistair Bartholomew Barnaby, to Never After where she finds the kingdom in a state of distress after the thirteenth fairy, Carabosse, stole Princess Eliana. As a result of Carabosse’s disappearance, the evil ogre queen, Olga has taken over the land.

In her first visit to Never After, Filomena fights ogres and meets the fairy, Zera, who sees a strange resemblance between Filomena and her sister, Carabosse. Zera reveals that Filomena possesses the fairy mark which shines brightly as a crescent moon on Filomena’s forehead. Confused, Filomena rejects her fairy mark and leaves Never After. Although she always wondered about her biological parents, Filomena is reluctant to accept that she is from Never After. However, upon her return to North Pasadena, Filomena finds her Never After books have changed and Filomena returns to Never After to help her friends, even if it means leaving behind the safety of North Pasadena and acknowledging her true identity.

This novel is an exciting book for young, middle-grade readers because it combines fairy tales and reality and mixes familiar characters with new stories. The book follows Filomena’s story, but short prologues are scattered in between chapters to provide context to the history of Never After.

Traveling to and from the magical and mortal world, Filomena and other recognizable fairy tale characters fight trolls, outsmart dragons, ride motorcycles with wolves, and perform spells in their quest to stop the ogres and save Never After.  The Thirteenth Fairy is a fast-paced story full of adventure and inspiring characters. Throughout the book, Filomena learns the importance of friendship, family, and believing in yourself. Before her adventures in Never After, Filomena was unsure of herself and where she belonged. Although she is loved by her adoptive parents, she is an outcast at school, and she is losing faith in herself. However, with help from her new friends, Filomena discovers her inner courage and strength. Filomena learns that you can achieve anything as long you believe in yourself and trust the friends and family who have your back.

Sexual Content

  • Filomena’s mom is a contemporary romance writer, and Filomena is informed by school bullies that “page 157 of Mum’s latest book is exceptionally saucy.”

Violence

  • Filomena says hello to a boy she assumes is a fellow Never After fan, but instead, “the boy suddenly pushes her to the ground” to shield her from the Ogre’s Wrath.
  • Filomena and a strange boy are being attacked by thunderbolts. “More thunderbolts strike the ground around them, but they duck and weave, luckily avoiding being hit.”
  • A group of school bullies grabs Filomena’s backpack and “another grabs at her hair as she tries to regain her footing, knocking her off-balance yet again and yanking her backward.” Filomena “flinches, reaching for her hair.” She is upset, but not badly hurt.
  • Jack tells his friends that his “whole family was killed. I’m the only one left. I saw my brother burning in front of me when the ogres attacked our village.”
  • Filomena remembers ogres “like to roast their victims before eating them.”
  • Filomena, Zera, Jack, and Alistair engage in a battle against the ogres. The four friends watch as “ogres roar as they set cottages on fire, and when the inhabitants run out, they stomp on them.” Eventually, Zera “stabs the ogre general right in the heart.” Most of the ogres retreat, but Alistair “is in the grips of an ogre’s giant fist.” After Alistair has been saved, he claims he hurts “everywhere and after,” but he is alive.
  • In a vision, Princess Eliana is attacked by Olga the ogre queen. There is “blood on the wall. Blood on the floor. Then at last—an ogre fully satisfied.”
  • Filomena and her friends encounter the school bullies who reveal themselves to be trolls. The friends try to outrun the trolls until they are forced to fight. Jack uses his magic vines to trap the trolls, “but the trolls unleash their own weapons — garden shears! —and begin to hack at the vines. Jack falls to his knees, his vines dripping blood.” Then, “a few of the trolls focus their attention on the new combatants, and one of them slashes at Gretel [a Never After friend]’s sweater.” Jack continues to fight the trolls with his vines until they are “choked unconscious.” None of the friends are seriously injured, but a few of the trolls escape and kidnap Alistair.
  • Filomena encounters a hungry ogre in the woods. The ogre “moves first, reaching to stab the fork into Filomena’s stomach.” However, with Filomena’s dragonhide armor, “the fork can’t penetrate her.” While the ogre is confused, Filomena “stabs the ogre with the Dragon’s Tooth, hard and fast in the thigh” and the wolves of the forest chase the ogre away.
  • After the ogre queen is defeated “they discovered that King Vladimir had been killed, his corpse rotting in the middle of the ballroom, where he had tried to kill Olga and save his daughter.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • At a feast with the Vineland villagers, Zera “raises her goblet of wine and taps the table with her open palms three times, signaling for silence.”
  • When Olga poisoned Queen Rosanna, “the poison spread slowly at first. Rosanna’s flesh flushed, reddening and heating until all her veins burst.” Olga killed Queen Rosanna.

Language

  • Filomena refers to the mean girls at her school as the “troll army.”
  • Posy, a bully, tells Filomena, “For a smart kid you’re pretty stupid.”
  • Posy tells Filomena to “stay away from us, ”
  • After Jack completes the Test of Wills, Alistair declares it was “badass.”

Supernatural

  • Never After is a land of magical creatures from fairies and “towering dragons, their armored scales glittering gold and green, to warty goblins and rambunctious dwarves.”
  • Carabosse is “the thirteenth and most powerful fairy in all of Never After.”
  • A thunderbolt strikes near Filomena, and she wonders, “did I imagine it, or were we just hit with an Ogre’s Wrath?!”
  • Filomena performs a fairy spell to make the lightning stop. She chants, “Ogre, ogre, cloaked in clover, I cease your wrath, three times over!”
  • Filomena discovers the Heart Tree, which is “the portal that connects all lands of Never After to each other.”
  • Frustrated with her peers, Filomena shouts out a spell to make time stop and to her surprise, “everyone is frozen.”
  • Jack has powers that allow him to grow vines and speak to trees.
  • Jack and Alistair explain that, being from timeless fairytales, they are technically immortal. He says, “We never grow old, but we can perish.”
  • Jack contains a Seeing Eye telescope that helps him locate magical items.
  • Desperate for an escape, Filomena “grabs the Pied Pipe from [Jack’s] hands and lifts it to her lips. Without thinking, she plays the first tune that comes to mind: the theme from the movies based on the Never After books, of course. Sure enough, it unlocks the Heart Tree.”
  • Jack reminds Alistair that “Filomena can’t see Zera’s cottage [because] it has the glamour around it.”
  • Filomena performs a spell that makes ogre bones turn to mush; “Ogre be feeble! Ogre be thick! Ogre be sluggish! Ogre be sick! Ogre droop under this limbless kiss, until every bit of you is mush and twist!” Then, the ogre’s “flesh goes formless…what was once nimble becomes numb, the skin sagging into a gloppy substance.” The ogre is presumably dead.
  • Zera recites a spell whispering, “the thirteenth fairy is missing, my sister is she. The thirteenth fairy is hiding, won’t you show her to me?” Then, Filomena sees “on her forehead, underneath the skin, is a luminescent mark: a tiny crescent moon surrounded by thirteen tiny stars.”
  • Filomena notices her favorite book series has magically changed the second time she reads it. “The first book is the story of Jack the Giant Stalker. But somehow, as she rereads it, it’s not.”
  • Magic and magical objects are used all throughout the book. For example, “Filomena stares in disbelief at the Arabian rug floating in the sky.”

Spiritual Content

  • None

by Elena Brown

 The Wishing Spell

Twins, Alex, and Conner Bailey are no longer living in a fairytale. After their father dies in a car accident, their mother struggles to make ends meet, and leaves the twins to fend for themselves on their birthday. Despite struggles in school and trouble making friends, both twins find comfort in the fairytales told to them by their late father and grandmother. A storybook from their grandmother titled, The Land of Stories allows the twins to enter a world of magic where fairytales become reality, but not everything happens as it was written.

In The Land of Stories, Goldilocks is a sword fighting outlaw, Little Red Riding Hood is a self-obsessed queen, and one of their greatest allies is a talking frog. However, as magical as the world may seem, the dangers are just as real, especially since the Evil Queen–from the tale of Snow White–has escaped from prison. To return to the safety of the real world, Alex and Conner need to find the items of “the Wishing Spell,” a legendary incantation that will allow them to wish their way home. But the Evil Queen is after it too. The twins are in a race against the Queen. Who will find the items of the Wishing Spell first? The twins will have to work together to settle their differences if they ever wish to return home.

The Wishing Spell is an entertaining and creative retelling of many classic fairytales including Jack and the Beanstalk and Cinderella. The Land of Stories is a well-crafted world, filled with many well-known tales that are explored in more depth. Because of that, the fairy tale characters develop intricate personalities, which are an enjoyable part of the book. The complicated plot is explained well, but the large cast of characters may be difficult for readers to remember. As for the main characters, Alex and Conner are opposites–Alex is a diligent, well-read girl with an introverted and idealistic personality, while Conner is a class-clown type character that provides comic relief and serves as a “realist” when needed. Combined, they make an engaging and loveable pair.

In the end, the twins learn that there is more to each story than what meets the eye. Alex and Conner are thwarted by the Queen, resulting in her using the Wishing Spell items before they can. However, they learn about her motives that reveal her to be less evil and more misunderstood, which deepens their compassion for her. As Alex says, “I think what I’ve learned from all this is that villains are mostly just people villainized by circumstance.”

In the end, the Evil Queen dies, and the truth of her motives—to save her lover who is trapped in the magic mirror—die with her. The twins learn that, while “happy ever after” may not be a reality for everyone, genuine kindness and love does exist. The story highlights the importance of treating others with respect and patience so misunderstandings can be prevented. No one can go back in time to save the Evil Queen from her demise, but Snow White concludes that “the best thing we can do now to honor her memory is to live every day with the compassion and understanding no one ever gave her.”

Sexual Content

  • Conner says he remembers the location of a room because of a painting beside it. Conner says, “I remember that portrait of Red being next to the basket room.” Conner pointed to a portrait where Red Riding Hood was barely clothed, with only a wolf-skin coat to cover her. Alex gave Conner a dirty look. “‘What?’ Conner asked with a smirk. ‘It’s memorable.’”
  • Goldilocks and Jack (from Jack and the Beanstalk) are in love. They kiss. Jack “reached through the gate and pulled Goldilocks close to him, and they kissed. It was passionate, pure, and long overdue.”
  • To get released from prison, Conner has to kiss a troll. “At a snail’s pace, [Conner] approached Trollbella with his lips extended. He wasn’t going fast enough for Alex, so she pushed him toward the cell door and Trollbella grabbed hold of him through the bars. She planted a big, fat, juicy kiss on him.”
  • When Goldilocks is rescued from the palace wreckage, she and Jack kiss. Goldilocks and “Jack collided into each other’s arms. They shared a kiss so passionate that a few of the soldiers blushed.”

Violence

  • Goldilocks and her horse, Porridge, fight with a pack of wolves. “One wolf tried to pounce on Porridge, but the horse kicked him away with her hind legs. Another wolf tried to bite Goldilocks, but she struck him with her sword, drawing blood, and he whimpered away. . . A wolf leaped and sank his claws into Porridge’s back. The horse bucked to free herself. In one quick slice, Goldilocks chopped one of wolves’ paws off. . . Goldilocks swung [her sword] hard at the wolves closing in on her, leaving large gashes in their muzzles.”
  • The goblins and trolls keep other beings as slaves who dig tunnels for them. They whip and imprison the humans, but it is not described in depth.
  • The twins fight back when they are chased by wolves in a minecart. “A few of the wolves swiped at them with their claws. The twins ducked down as far as they could in the cart, but not before one of them reached Conner and left a bloody scratch on his forearm. Alex kicked another right in the snout, and it whimpered away.”
  • The Evil Queen hits Conner. “She struck him hard across the face with the back of her hand. Conner’s whole body shifted with the blow.”
  • The Evil Queen’s Huntsman tries to kill Jack but ends up getting killed. “The Huntsman began shooting arrows at Jack. . . Jack was trying to block the arrows with the sword. . . He hit one [arrow] perfectly, and it flew behind the Huntsman. The Huntsman grunted and froze. His eyes bulged and he fell flat on his face. The arrow had bounced off the wall behind him and was now sticking out of his back. The Huntsman was dead.”
  • The Huntsman’s daughter, the Huntress, tries to kill Jack in retaliation. “Jack turned around and the Huntress stabbed him in the arm with her dagger. . . He dropped the sword and fell to the ground. . . He was clutching his arm. Blood was everywhere.”
  • To protect him, Goldilocks intervenes and fights the Huntress. “Goldilocks blocked the dagger with her sword. . . [Then Goldilocks] kicked the Huntress in the stomach. The Huntress rolled to the other side of the room and hopped back to her feet. Goldilocks swung her sword at the Huntress and the duel began. . .” The fight lasts five pages and ends with the pair dueling on the palace roof. Jack interferes to save Goldilocks. “He ran over to a cannon and lit it. He wrenched it toward the Huntress’s direction, and it fired. A cannonball soared towards the women and blasted away the section of roof the Huntress was standing on. [The Huntress] fell the entire height of the castle and into the moat, silently screaming the entire way. There was no way she could have survived the fall.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • Mrs. Peters, the kids’ teacher, gives a patronizing look. “‘And why is that?’ Mrs. Peters said, as if asking, ‘What on earth could you possibly be confused about, idiot?’”
  • Conner says, “Don’t piss off your neighbors.” He also says “stupid” once.
  • A farmer says, “the damn thing never worked” talking about a magic watering can.
  • Alex calls Conner an “idiot” when Connor screams in surprise at his reflection in a mirror.
  • Conner calls Queen Red Riding Hood a “self-obsessed twit.”
  • Froggy, a talking frog, says “damn you, miserable plants,” when the twins are attacked by vines.
  • Goldilocks insults Red Riding Hood a few times, calling her a “red-hooded harlot” and a “basket carrying bimbo.”
  • When the Evil Queen hits Conner, she calls him a “stupid boy.”

Supernatural

  • The kids use the fictional storybook The Land of Stories to travel to a magical land where all fairytales are true—with varying degrees of truth, such as Goldilocks becoming an outlaw after her run in with the three bears.
  • In The Land of Stories, there are talking animals, fictional creatures such as fairies, and magic.

Spiritual Content

  • Conner wonders why Snow White’s kingdom would have so many tributes to apples because they were what almost killed her. Alex says, “I suppose it’s symbolic for the kingdom. Like a cross in the church.”
  • When Connor and Alex wake up in the Mermaid Kingdom, Conner thinks that they have died. He thinks, “We must be in heaven.” Conner also mistakes the mermaids for angels.

by Maddie Shooter

The Queen of Nothing

Jude is a mortal who has grown up in Faerieland, but she has recently been exiled back to the land of her birth. Now, Jude lives in the mortal land with her siblings, Oak, a faerie, and Vivi, who is half-faerie. Jude begins to rely on odd jobs to get by. However, this all changes when Taryn, Jude’s twin sister, seeks refuge with them, telling them that she’s killed her husband. Because they’re identical, Jude and Taryn decide to swap Identities and Jude jumps at the chance to return to her home. However, when Jude returns, her husband, the High King of Elfhame, recognizes she isn’t Taryn, and tells Jude that her exile was all a farce and she could have returned at any time. Jude feels betrayed. Before the two can fully reconcile, however, Madoc, Jude’s adoptive father, swoops in, trying to save Taryn from her interrogation, but takes Jude instead not realizing she and Taryn had switched.

Jude plots against Madoc and confronts him revealing that she isn’t Taryn. The two fight, and Madoc delivers a fatal blow to Jude. Despite the severity of the wound, Jude is able to heal and return to the palace, where she is now the queen due to her marriage to Cardan. At the palace, Madoc and his allies strike, and Madoc challenges Cardan to a duel. Before the duel can take place, Cardan speaks out about the ridiculous manner of the monarchy of Elfhame and makes a show of breaking the crown in half. However, the crown is cursed and Cardan transforms into a giant serpent. It’s prophesized that “only out of his blood can a great leader rise,” so Jude kills the serpent and Cardan is reborn and accepted to be the true High King of Elfhame. Jude and Cardan then fully recognize the love that they have for each other and resume their legal rules in peace.

In the final book of The Folk and the Air Trilogy, Black creates a thrilling read full of suspense. The characters plotting against each other make a gripping story that feels impossible to put down. The ending, where Cardan turns into a snake, seems a little out of place and extremely odd given the rest of the trilogy. Despite this, Black creates a story full of characters who seem believable and relatable, with at least one character the reader will see themselves in.

The Queen of Nothing wraps up loose ends which creates a satisfying ending to Cardan and Jude’s tale. The story tells of the heroic achievements of the underdog and emphasizes the importance of remaining strong throughout adversity. The novel emphasizes the idea of finding allies in unlikely places, as well as the importance of resilience. Altogether, Black creates a series that is highly engrossing and deeply satisfying.

Sexual Content

  • Cardan and Jude kiss. She thinks, “I want him to kiss me. My weariness evaporates as his lips press against mine. Over and over, one kiss sliding into the next.”
  • Before Cardan and Jude have sex, Jude thinks, “When I was a kid, sex was a mystery, some bizarre thing people did to make babies when they got married. Once, a friend and I placed dolls in a hat and shook the hat around to indicate that they were doing it . . . But though I understand what sex is now and how it’s accomplished, I didn’t anticipate how much it would feel like losing myself.”
  • Cardan and Jude have sex. Jude fumbles “into what I think is the right position. Gasp as our bodies slide together. He holds me steady through the sharp, bright spark of pain.”

Violence

  • Prince Dain, Cardan’s brother, shoots a mortal with an arrow. Prince Dain “loosed the arrow . . . It struck the mortal through the throat.” The wound is not described.
  • In a three-page scene, Jude fights Grima Mog, a cannibalistic faerie general. At one point, “Jude swings a metal pipe at Grima Mog’s side with all the strength in [her] body.” Grima Mog is injured, but not severely.
  • Taryn confesses that she killed Locke, her husband. She goes on to explain his death: “There was a jeweled letter opener on the desk and—you remember all those lessons Madoc gave us? The next thing I knew, the point of it was in Locke’s throat.”
  • When Madoc invades the castle to rescue Taryn, many guards are killed. “One of [Cardan]’s guards lies dead, a polearm jutting out of her ribcage.” The fight is not described.
  • Madoc and Jude have a three-page fight, where Madoc stabs her. “His sword sinks into my side, into my stomach.” Although the wound is not described, Jude then goes on to describe when Madoc walks away. “His blade comes free, slick with my blood. My leg is wet with it. I am bleeding out.” Despite incurring such a violent injury, Jude is able to heal.
  • When Jude and Cardan reunite, she slaps him. “It’s a stinging blow, smearing the gold on his cheekbone and causing his skin to redden.”
  • One of Jude’s fellow spies tells Jude, “We caught a few courtiers speculating about assassinating the mortal queen. Their plans got blown up . . . As did they.”
  • Jude kills the serpent that Cardan becomes. “I swing Heartsworn in a shining arc at the serpent’s head. The blade falls, cutting through scales, through flesh and bone. Then the serpent’s head is at my feet.”
  • The Queen of the Undersea, Orlagh is shot by a cursed arrow. Madoc tells Cardan, “’If you will not risk the Blood Crown, the arrowhead will burrow into her heart, and she will die.’”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • Madoc drugs Jude with “a cloth smelling of cloying sweetness.” Jude “feel[s] [her] limbs go loose, and a moment later, [she] feel[s] nothing at all.”
  • At parties, there is often drinking, especially of “honey wine.”

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • At Cardan’s birth, a prophecy is given. “Prince Cardan will be your last born child . . . He will be the destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne.”
  • When Cardan is a child, his brother instructs him to shoot a walnut off a mortal man’s head. The mortal is described as “enchanted, of course. No one would stand like that willingly.”
  • While in exile, Jude reminisces on her time in Faerie, thinking, “It’s magic I long for, magic I miss. Maybe I even miss being afraid.”
  • There are many faeries. For example, Oak, Jude’s brother, is described with horns and hoofed feet.
  • Heather, Vivi’s girlfriend, texts her about her time in Faeire, saying, “I want to forget Faerie. I want to forget that you and Oak aren’t human. I don’t want to feel like this anymore. If I asked you to make me forget, would you?”
  • While in the mortal realm, Jude explains that “faeries in the mortal world have a different set of needs than those in Elfhame. The solitary fey, surviving at the edges of Faerie, do not concern themselves with revels and courtly machinations.”
  • Jude’s boss, who provides her with odd jobs, is described as  “a black-furred, goat-headed, and goat-hooved faerie with bowler hat in hand.”
  • Both Grima Mog (a cannibalistic faerie general), and Madoc (Jude’s father) are Redcaps, meaning “they have a cap they dip in the blood of their vanquished enemies, supposedly to grant them some stolen vitality of the slain.”
  • When Jude opens Grima Mog’s fridge to put some leftovers away, “The remains of the Folk she’s killed greet me. She’s collected arms and heads, preserved somehow, baked and broiled and put away just like leftovers after a big holiday dinner.”
  • Heather confides in Jude about her troubles. Heather says, “I have nightmares. About that place. Faerie. I can’t sleep. I look at people on the street, and I wonder if they’re glamoured. . . I don’t need to know there’s a whole other world full of monsters. . . But I also hate that [Oak] and Vee have magic, magic that she could use to win every argument that we could ever have. Magic to make me obsessed with her. Or turn me into a duck.”
  • Jude explains that she “had a geas placed on me. It protects me from glamours.”
  • Grimsen, a Faerie blacksmith, explains that he made Cardan an earring that “allowed him to overhear those speaking just outside of range.” However, “it was cursed. With a word, I could turn it into a ruby spider that would bite him until he died.”
  • Jude explains the importance of the full names of faeries. “Among the Folk, true names are closely guarded secrets. A faerie can be controlled by their true name, surer than by any vow.”
  • As the High Queen of Faerie, Jude wonders if the earth can heal her in a way similar to how the land reacts to Cardan. After sewing her wound shut, she notices that in the ground, where she had bled, “tiny white flowers [are] pushing through the snow.”
  • Nicasia, princess of the Undersea, is described as wearing “armor of iridescent scales.”
  • At Cardan’s old house, there is a magical door “carved with an enormous and sinister face” that can speak.
  • Madoc drives a sword into the floor. “A crack forms on the floor, starting where the blade punctured the ground, the fissure widening as it moves toward the dais, splitting the stone.” The throne is split, and “sap leaks from the rupture like blood from a wound.”
  • Cardan, after being cursed, turns into a giant serpent. “The monstrous thing seems to have swallowed up everything of Cardan. His mouth opens wide and then jaw-crackingly wide as long fangs sprout. Scales shroud his skin… In the place where the High King was, there is a massive serpent, covered in black scales and curved fangs. A golden sheen runs down the coils of the enormous body.”
  • Jude begs the earth to uncurse Cardan. “‘Please,’ I say to the dirt floor of the brugh, to the earth itself. ‘I will do whatever you want. I will give up the crown. I will make any bargain. Just please fix him. Help me break the curse.’”
  • There is a theory that the health of the king is tied closely to the land, so when it storms, Jude thinks, “I can only assume that Cardan, in his cursed form, is cursing the weather as well.”
  • Grimsen, a blacksmith, created a bridle that can “leash anything. In fact, it will fit itself to the creature being restrained.”
  • Jude is able to heal a poisoned man by placing her hand on his ankle and thinking, “Wake…I am your queen and I command you to wake.”
  • The astronomer on the king’s council says the stars are unclear. “When the future is obscured, it means an event will permanently reshape the future for good or ill. Nothing can be seen until the event is concluded.”
  • Once Cardan is uncursed, he heals the land that Madoc had broken, “Cardan spreads his hands, and the earth heals along the seam, rock and stone bubbling up to fill it back in. Then he twists his fingers, and the divided throne grows anew, blooming with briars.”
  • Cardan gifts the spies of his kingdom magical masks, explaining, “When you wear it, no one will be able to recall your height or the timbre of your voice. And in that mask, let no one in Elfhame turn you away. Every hearth will be open to you, including mine.”

Spiritual Content

  • None

by Sara Mansfield

 

The Wicked King

Jude, a mortal living in Faerieland, finds herself pulling the strings behind a puppet king she has created. With Cardan, the High King of Elhame, bound to follow her every command, Jude feels that she has finally bested the faeries who have tormented her for her entire childhood. However, she only has this control for a year and a day, and five months have already passed leaving Jude scrambling for a method to hold on to her power. It seems that the entire world is against Jude. Her twin sister, Taryn, is marrying a man who Jude dislikes, the advisory council refuses to take her word into account, and she is warned that someone that she trusts has betrayed her.

There’s an uprising occurring with the Undersea, a kingdom that had previously forged an alliance with Cardan’s dad, but that now wants independence and power. Orlagh, the Queen of the Undersea, teams up with Cardan’s brother, Balekin, who is responsible for the past king’s death. During Taryn’s wedding, the Undersea strikes, kidnapping Jude and holding her hostage. Cardan makes enormous sacrifices to bring Jude back, and the two begin to recognize that they have feelings for each other and that the intense hatred between them has faded.

Things go terribly awry when Cardan throws a party to make peace with the people whose land he sacrificed to the Undersea. Cardan is poisoned by his brother, Balekin, and Balekin tries to pin the blame on Jude. Jude and Balekin duel and Jude emerges victorious, killing Balekin. Jude and Cardan marry in secret, cementing her as the High Queen of Elfhame. However, as a punishment for Balekin’s murder, the Undersea demands that Jude be exiled to the mortal lands. Though exiled, Jude begins to hatch a plot to return home.

Told from Jude’s point of view, this fast-paced sequel to The Cruel Prince provides hidden depth to the characters, as well as develops a plot that’s full of twists and turns, with betrayal around every corner. Despite some of Jude’s questionable decisions, it seems impossible not to root for her. Jude is a strong female character that many girls will be able to relate and look up to. She doesn’t let her shortcomings stop her in her quest for power and glory. She is able to overcome every hurdle, which makes her even stronger. Although the reader is privy to her inner thoughts, she never seems to falter in her strength, which makes her a positive female role model.

Black creates a mystical, magical world that is both fantastical and terrifying, drawing the reader into the story and its world.  The book emphasizes the danger of an abundance of ambition, and how power has the ability to corrupt individuals. It also establishes a romantic relationship between Cardan and Jude that feels satisfying and believable, as the two finally begin to view themselves as equals. All of these elements come together to form an intricately woven story about power, love, and betrayal.

Sexual Content

  • When made to play a cruel game at a party, Jude “pull[s] the dress [she] is wearing over [her] head,” standing “in the middle of the party in [her] underwear.”
  • Cardan seduces Jude. Cardan “presses his mouth to my ear, kissing me there. . .He doesn’t kiss me as though he’s angry; his kiss is soft, yearning.” Jude notes, “I try to stop myself from making embarrassing noises. It’s more intimate than the way he’s touching me, to be looked at like that.”
  • Jude describes a night with Cardan, “trad[ing] kisses in the darkness, blurred by exhaustion. I don’t expect to sleep, but I do, my limbs tangled with his.”

Violence

  • While visiting Balekin in prison, Jude is slapped by a guard, leaving her “cheek stinging and furious.”
  • Jude stabs a prison guard with “a little pin I keep hidden in the lining of my doublet.”
  • Someone shoots Cardan with a crossbow, and his wound is depicted as “a stripe of raw skin along his side.” Another faerie was hit with a bolt in the leg, and the wound is not described.
  • Jude threatens Locke, Taryn’s fiancé, putting her “foot on his chest, pressing down a little to remind him that if [she] kicked hard, it could shatter bone.”
  • Jude notes that Locke knows “I stabbed Valerian once, but he doesn’t know I killed him, nor that I have killed since then.”
  • While in the woods, Jude is shot with an arrow, and is “unable to bite back a cry of pain.”
  • The Undersea attacks and knights are killed, which is not depicted. Jude enters the scene after the attack and notes that “all their eyes have been replaced with pearls. Drowned on dry land.”
  • When speaking to Madoc, Jude reveals her troublesome past as a mortal in Faerie. She says, “You’ve let Folk hurt me and laugh at me and mutilate me.” Then, she holds up “the hand with the missing fingertip, where one of his own guards bit it clean off. Another scar is at its center, from where Dain forced me to stick a dagger through my hand.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • Cardan is often depicted as drunk. At one party, “He calls again and again for his cabochon-encrusted goblet to be refilled with a pale green liquor. The very smell of it makes [Jude’s] head spin.”
  • Jude purposefully poisons herself in a process called mithridatism, “by which one takes a little bit of poison to inoculate oneself against a full dose of it.” She notes that because of this, “My eyes shine too brightly. The half-moons of my fingernails are bluish, as though my blood doesn’t get quite enough oxygen. My sleep is strange, full of too-vivid dreams.”
  • Jude explains what the different poisons of faerie do. “The blusher mushroom, which causes potentially lethal paralysis . . . deathsweet, which can cause a sleep that lasts a hundred years. . . wraithberry, which makes the blood race and induces a kind of wildness before stopping the heart . . . of everapple—faerie fruit—which muddies the minds of mortals.”
  • Jude notes going to a party in the mortal world, and “being allowed little sips of Shiraz.”
  • When Jude is hurt, a fellow spy gives her an ointment with the “scent of strong herbs.”
  • At a party, Cardan is poisoned by his brother in an attempt for the crown, but Cardan is quickly given an antidote.

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • The Faerie world is full of different types of faeries, such as a boy who has “the lower half of a deer.” Another faerie is described as being “grass-haired,” and having dark green skin.
  • Jude reminisces about her past. “Sometimes Jude longed for her bike, but there were none in Faerie. Instead, she had giant toads and thin greenish ponies and wild-eyed horses slim as shadows. And she had weapons.”
  • In Faerie, the King/Queen’s health is directly tied to the land in a magical way. “They are the lifeblood and the beating heart of their realm in some mystical way,” and when Cardan “becomes drunk, his subjects become tipsy without knowing why. When his blood falls, things grow.” All of Cardan’s actions seem to have a direct impact on the land and his subjects, and if he bleeds on the ground, new life sprouts from it.
  • Grimsen, a faerie blacksmith, is described as imbuing his works with magical qualities. He is the one who “made the Blood Crown for Mab and wove enchantments into it. It’s said he can make anything from metal, even living things—metal birds that fly, metal snakes that slither and strike. He made the twin swords, Heartseeker and Heartsworn, one that never misses and the other that can cut through anything.”
  • A faerie is described as, “A hag—old and powerful enough that the air around her seems to crackle with the force of her magic. Her fingers are twiggy, her hair the color of smoke, and her nose like the blade of a scythe.”
  • Cardan receives a gift of fabric woven from “spider silk and nightmares. A garment cut from it can turn a sharp blade, yet be as soft as a shadow against your skin.”
  • It is revealed that along with a physical gift of woven fabric, an old faerie had presented Cardan with “a geas, allowing you to marry only a weaver of the cloth in my hands. Myself—or my daughter.”
  • Faerie marriages are different than mortal ones in that, “unlike the mortal until death do us part, they contain conditions like ‘until you shall both renounce each other’ or ‘unless one strikes the other in anger’ or the cleverly worded ‘for the duration of a life’ without specifying whose.”
  • Pixies are described as having “iridescent wings shining in the candlelight.”
  • A faerie guard is described as “a large, hairy creature . . . wearing beautifully wrought plate armor, blond fur sticking out from any gaps.”
  • Jude describes a group of faeries, “a boy with sparrow wings, three spriggans, a sluagh girl.”
  • A forest, Milkwood, is described as a place “where black-thorned bees hum in their hives high in the white-barked trees. The root men are asleep. The sea laps at the rocky edges of the isle.”
  • Jude asks a fellow spy if he was a happy child, to which he replies, “’I was magic. How could I fail to be?’”
  • When Taryn comes to Jude offering help, Jude begins to doubt her intentions, noting that, “Faerie runs on debt, on promises and obligations. Having grown up here, I understand what she’s offering—a gift, a boon, instead of an apology.”
  • Jude depicts a couple of faeries she sees at a party, “a boy and a girl—one with ram’s horns, the other with long ears that come to tufted points, like those of an owl.”
  • Nicasia, the sea princess’s, hair is described as being “the many colors of the sea.”
  • One of Jude’s fellow spies is described as a “hob-faced owl.”
  • Jude describes the Council of the King: “the Unseelie Minister, a troll with a thick head of shaggy hair with pieces of metal braided into it; the Seelie Minister, a green woman who looks like a mantis; the Grand General, Madoc; the Royal Astrologer, a very tall, dark-skinned man with a sculpted beard and celestial ornaments in the long fall of his navy-blue hair; the Minister of Keys, a wizened old hob with ram’s horns and goat eyes; and the Grand Fool, who wears pale lavender roses on his head to match his purple motley.”
  • Jude finds an “enchanted orb” that allows her to see video-like memories.
  • A fellow spy tells Jude that when she was a thief in the mortal world, she was mostly “using glamour to hide [her] mistakes.”
  • There is a game in faerie in which a group of faeries, “Steal away a mortal girl, make her drunk on faerie wine and faerie flattery and faerie kisses, then convince her she is being honored with a crown—all the time heaping insults on her oblivious head.”
  • If a mortal dances with faeries, they find themselves unable to stop. When this happens to Jude, she thinks, “I cannot stop myself from dancing, cannot stop my body from moving even as my terror grows. I will not stop. I will dance through the leather of my shoes, dance until my feet are bloody, dance until I collapse.”
  • Jude describes a faerie who could tell the future, “The hag was given to prophecy and divined futures in eggshells.”
  • When Heather visits Faerie, Jude warns her, “Listen, the Folk can glamour things to look different than they do. They can mess with your mind—charm you, persuade you to do things you wouldn’t consider normally. And then there’s everapple, the fruit of Faerie. If you taste it, all you’ll think of is getting more.”
  • When visiting a blacksmith to get a gift for her sister’s wedding, the blacksmith offers “a necklace of tears to weep so that she won’t have to? A pin of teeth to bite annoying husbands?” A pair of earrings that, “make someone more lovely than they were, painfully lovely.” He takes many forms of payment, such as “a year of your life. The luster of your hair. The sound of your laugh.”
  • The blacksmith offers to make Cardan “armor of ice to shatter every blade that strikes it and that will make his heart too cold to feel pity. Tell him I will make him three swords that, when used in the same battle, will fight with the might of thirty soldiers.”
  • When someone is cursed, “her ears have grown furred and long, like that of a cat. Her nose is differently shaped, and the stubs of whiskers are growing above her eyebrows and from the apples of her cheeks.”
  • When Jude is captured by the Undersea, she notes that Nicasia’s feet have been “replaced by a long tail.”
  • Jude describes a merman, “His hair is a kind of striped green, and the same stripes continue down his body. His large eyes flash in the indifferent light.”
  • Nicasia attempts to glamour Jude, trying to convince her that her stone room actually contains a “four-poster bed, wrapped in coverlets. And the cunning little side tables and your own pot of tea, still steaming. It will be perfectly warm and delicious whenever you try it.”
  • Jude eats soup that “tastes of a memory I cannot quite place, warm afternoons and splashing in pools and kicking plastic toys across the brown grass of summer lawns.”
  • Orlagh, the queen of the Undersea is described. “Her skin is covered in shiny silvery scales that seem both to be metallic and to have grown from her skin. A helmet of bone and teeth hides her hair.”
  • Cardan is depicted as magical and being able to call on the land. “He stretches out his hand, and something seems to rise to the top of the water around us, like a pale scrum. Sand. Floating sand.”

Spiritual Content

  • None

by Sara Mansfield

The Cruel Prince

Jude, her twin sister Taryn, and half-sister Vivi lived a normal life until their parents were murdered by Madoc, Vivi’s war general faerie father. Despite killing their parents, Madoc takes the three sisters to live with him at his estate in Faerieland. While Vivi is half-faerie, Jude and Taryn are outsiders to their new world and some of the only well-treated mortals in the land. However, being the high general’s “children” does not grant them respect. At school, Taryn and Jude find themselves the butt of many jokes and are tormented by Cardan (a faerie prince), Nicasia, Locke, and Valerian. Jude often feels powerless against the fae and is subject to their glamours and compulsions. Plus, her mortality makes her vulnerable to their cruel jokes.

However, Jude’s life begins to change when she becomes a spy for Prince Dain, Cardan’s brother and next in line to be the High King of Faerie. Given a geas by the prince, which prevents compulsion, Jude begins to stand up to Cardan and his friends. She also begins a romance with Locke, who is the only one of Cardan’s friends that had ever shown her compassion. Jude’s mortality allows her to slip into Hollow Hall (Prince Balekin’s residence; Dain’s main competition for the throne) unnoticed and gather crucial information for Dain’s cause.

At the coronation, Taryn reveals that she is to be married to Locke, shocking everyone, most notably Jude, who believed herself to be Locke’s girlfriend. While Dain is being crowned, chaos breaks out and Balekin, Dain’s brother, challenges Dain for the throne. Madoc, who is secretly working with Balekin, kills Dain, and shortly after, all of Dain’s siblings have been killed or committed suicide—except for Cardan, who is nowhere to be seen. While scrambling for shelter from the bloodshed, Jude stumbles upon Cardan, and decides to take him hostage and use him as a bargaining chip with Balekin and Madoc. While holding him hostage, Jude discovers Cardan’s reason for hating her, which is that he cannot stop thinking about her and shamefully desires her.

Jude becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and discovers her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

Told from Jude’s point of view, The Cruel Prince explores the triumph of an outsider. Although the characters feel believable, at times, it can be difficult to root for them, or even like them, because they are cruel. The novel pushes the point that cruelty only begets more cruelty, and that betrayal and ruthlessness are essential in the pursuit of power. The plot is rather complex, and the book is chock-full of events that all seem to be very important. Although some events seem superfluous at first, their relevance is revealed by the end of the novel. The dialogue, at times, can feel a little convoluted and antiquated, but this seems to fit with the holier-than-thou air of the fae. Altogether, The Cruel Prince is an engaging, fast-paced novel showcasing a strong female lead.

Sexual Content

  • Vivi is revealed to have a girlfriend in the human world. “Vivi is in the photos, her arm draped over the shoulders of a grinning, pink-haired mortal girl. Maybe Taryn isn’t the only one who has decided to fall in love.”
  • Vivi “kisses Heather,” her mortal girlfriend.
  • After being forced to consume faerie fruit, which is like a drug to humans, Cardan and his friends convince Jude to take of her dress, until all she is wearing is “mortal underclothes—a mint-and-black polka-dotted bra and underpants.”
  • Jude begins a romance with Locke, Cardan’s friend. At Locke’s house before a party, she thinks, “I want his mouth on mine, blotting out everything else.”
  • Jude sees Cardan at a party with a girl. “A horned girl I don’t know is kissing his throat, and another, this one with daffodil hair, presses her mouth against the calf of his leg, just above the top of his boot.”
  • While Jude is holding Cardan hostage, she realizes that Cardan desires her. Jude leans “toward him, close enough for a kiss. His eyes widen. The look on his face is some commingling of panic and desire.”
  • After realizing she has power over Cardan, Jude kisses him. “But kissing Locke never felt the way that kissing Cardan does, like taking a dare to run over knives, like an adrenaline strike of lightning, like the moment when you’ve swum too far out in the sea and there is no going back, only cold black water closing over your head . . . Then his hands come up, gentle as they glide over my arms. If I didn’t know better, I’d say his touch was reverent, but I do know better… He doesn’t want this. He doesn’t want to want this…He kisses me hard, with a kind of devouring desperation, fingers digging into my hair. Our mouths slide together, teeth over lips over tongues. Desire hits me like a kick to the stomach. It’s like fighting, except what we’re fighting for is to crawl inside each other’s skin.”

Violence

  • Madoc confronts Jude’s mother who faked her death. Madoc says, “The bones of an earthly woman and her unborn child in the burned remains of my estate were convincing.”
  • Madoc kills Jude’s mother and father as an act of revenge. Madoc is particularly violent when he kills Jude’s father. “The man plunged the sword into Dad’s stomach, pushing it upward. There was a sound, like sticks snapping, and an animal cry.” The scene is described over four pages.
  • When a faerie doesn’t bow to Cardan, he “grabs one of his wings. It tears like paper. The boy’s scream is thin and reedy. He curls up into himself on the ground, agony plain on his face.”
  • Madoc is a redcap, meaning that “after every battle, he ritually dips his hood into the blood of his enemies.” In one scene, the cap is described as, “stiff and stained a brown so deep it’s almost black.”
  • When Jude is awarded a ruby-studded pen from Madoc, one of her classmates becomes angry. “This threw Valerian into such a rage that he cracked me in the back of the head with his wooden practice sword.”
  • When she was a child, Jude was bullied because she is human. Jude mentions that “when I was nine, one of Madoc’s guards bit off the very top of the ring finger on my left hand.”
  • After being catcalled by a human in a visit to the mortal world, Jude attacks the catcaller, “I am turning before I can think, my fist cracking into his jaw. My booted foot hits his gut as he falls, rolling him over the pavement. I blink and find myself standing there, staring down at a kid who is gasping for air and starting to cry. My boot is raised to kick him in the throat, to crush his windpipe.”
  • After answering a question right in school, Jude is harassed and a classmate “slaps [her].”
  • After sneaking into Cardan’s house, Jude sees Cardan and his brother practicing swordplay. “Balekin brings down his staff hard, smacking him in the side of the head. I wince at the sound of the wood against his skull.”
  • After Cardan and his brother spar, Balekin punishes him for failure and has a servant whip him. “The servant strikes twice, the slap of the leather echoing loudly in the still air of the room.”
  • One of Cardan’s friends tries to get Jude to kill herself because she is embarrassing him. Jude retaliates, however, and “pull[s] the knife from my little pocket and stab[s] him in the side. Right between his ribs. If my knife had been longer, I would have punctured his lung.”
  • Jude tries to take a human servant that she had saved back to the human world. However, the servant, Sophie “tilts to one side, let’s go of the steed’s mane, and lets herself fall.” She falls into the ocean after filling her pockets with stones, committing suicide.
  • After finding out that Jude has stabbed Valerian after Valerian attempted to kill her, Dain, Jude’s spymaster, begins to question her loyalty to him because she has revealed her inability to be glamoured, putting the whole operation at risk. Because of this, Dain tells her to stab herself and prove her loyalty. Jude’s eyes were “on him, I slam the knife into my hand. The pain is a wave that rises higher and higher but never crashes.”
  • Angry with Jude for besting him, Valerian sneaks into Jude’s house and attacks her. As he chokes her, Jude retaliates. “Despite his fingers against my windpipe, despite the way my vision has begun to go dark around the edges, I make sure of my strike before I drive my knife into his chest. Into his heart,” killing him.
  • When Jude shoots a faerie spy, “the creature topples over, a flailing arm sending a pyramid of golden apples spilling to the dirt.”
  • At the coronation, while Dain is being crowned, “Madoc thrusts his sword through Dain’s chest with such force that the blade emerges on the other side. He drags it up, through his rib cage, to his heart.”
  • At the coronation, Jude takes Cardan hostage and “press[es] the tip of the knife against his skin so he can feel the bite.”
  • It is revealed that “Dain poisoned his own child, still in the womb.”
  • Locke has been secretly dating both Jude and Taryn. When Jude finds out, she challenges Taryn to a fight. Afterward, Madoc questions Taryn, “Did she thrust a sword into your hand and make you swing it? Do you really think that your sister has no honor, that she would chop you into pieces while you stood by, unarmed?’”
  • Jude challenges Madoc to a duel, and they fight for about 5 pages. Jude feigns “left and then land[s] a clever slice to his side. It’s a shallow hit, but it surprises us both when a line of red wets his coat. He thrusts toward me. I jump to one side, and he elbows me in the face, knocking me back to the ground. Blood gushes over my mouth from my nose.” She knows that she cannot win the fight, but she poisoned Madoc and just has to outlast him until the poison takes effect.

Drugs and Alcohol

  • There are many instances where people drink wine at faerie parties and also at dinner. At parties, people are described to, “drink themselves sick and numb themselves with poisonous and delightful powders.”
  • At the first revel Jude attends, Cardan is drunk. “His breath is heavy with the scent of honey wine.”
  • At dinner, Madoc and his wife, Oriana, “drink canary wine,” while the children “mix [theirs] with water.”
  • At one party, Jude is glamoured by a faerie to drink. “So [Jude] drank; the grass-green faerie wine slipping down my throat like nectar.”
  • Faerie fruit is dangerous for humans to consume. It “muddles the mind, which makes humans crave it enough to starve themselves for another taste, which makes us pliant and suggestible and ridiculous.”
  • When first introduced to Dain’s spies, Jude is offered a drink. The Ghost, one of Dain’s spies, “pours out four shots.” Then he says, “Have a drink. And don’t worry . . . It won’t befuddle you any more than any other drink.”
  • Jude talks about the various poisons that exist in Faerieland. Jude read “about the blusher mushroom, a pale fungus that blooms with beads of a red liquid that looks uncomfortably like blood. Small doses cause paralysis, while large doses are lethal, even for the Folk. Then there is deathsweet, which causes a sleep that lasts a hundred years. And wraithberry, which makes your blood race until your heart stops. And faerie fruit, of course, which one book called everapple.”
  • Jude begins to poison herself to build up immunity to poisoning. She consumes “a leaf of wraithberry from the palace garden. A petal from a flower of deathsweet. The tiniest bead of juice from the blusher mushroom. From each, I cut away a tinier portion and swallow. Mithridatism, it’s called. Isn’t that a funny name? The process of eating poison to build up immunity. So long as I don’t die from it, I’ll be harder to kill.”
  • While at a party, Jude and Locke “drink pale green wine that tastes of herbs out of massive goblets that Locke finds in the back of a cabinet.”
  • Jude worries about going to a party, but Locke reassures her by saying, “They’ll quickly be too drunk to notice.”
  • While in someone’s study, Jude notices that he has various herbs, and “a few are poisonous, but most are just narcotic.”
  • During Dain’s coronation, Jude sees Cardan, “unsteady on his feet and with a wine-skin in one hand. He appears to have gotten himself riotously drunk.”
  • Jude tricks Madoc into drinking a glass of poisoned wine. Jude gives “him a quick smile, pouring two glasses of wine—one light and the other dark. I am careful with them, sly-fingered. I do not spill a drop. . . I offer them both up for Madoc to choose between. Smiling, he takes the one the color of heart’s blood. I take the other.”
  • While at a coronation, Cardan drinks “directly from the neck” of a bottle of wine.

Language

  • Profanity is used rarely. Profanity includes bitch. For example, when Jude fights a stranger, the stranger’s friend screams, “Bitch. . . Crazy Bitch!”

Supernatural

  • Supernatural elements play a large part in the novel, as it takes place in Faerieland, a place ruled and inhabited by the fae.
  • Vivi, Jude’s half-sister, who is half-fae, is described as having a “split-pupiled gaze” and “lightly furred points of her ears.”
  • Jude describes the precautions that humans must take in Faerieland, and how her housemaid, Tatterfell protected her. “It was Tatterfell who smeared stinging faerie ointment over my eyes to give me True Sight so that I could see through most glamours, who brushed the mud from my boots, and who strung dried rowan berries for me to wear around my neck so I might resist enchantments. She wiped my wet nose and reminded me to wear my stockings inside out, so I’d never be led astray in the forest.”
  • When Tatterfell is doing Jude’s hair, she notes, “’I put in three knots for luck.”
  • One of Madoc’s spies is “a wrinkled creature with a nose like a parsnip and a back hunched higher than her head.”
  • While attending a faeire party, Jude describes the folk who are in attendance. “There are dozens of the Folk here, crowding around the entrance to the vast throne room, where Court is being held—long-nosed pixies with tattered wings; elegant, green-skinned ladies in long gowns with goblins holding up their trains; tricksy boggans; laughing foxkin; a boy in an owl mask and a golden headdress; an elderly woman with crows crowding her shoulders; a gaggle of girls with wild roses in their hair; a bark-skinned boy with feathers around his neck; a group of knights all in scarab-green armor.”
  • Prince Dain, a faerie, has “hooves and deer legs.”
  • Cardan has a tail, “with a tuft on the end! It coils up under his clothes and unfurls like a whip.”
  • As Jude and Taryn walk to school, they “spot mermaids and merrows sunning themselves near craggy caves, their scales reflecting the amber glow of the late-afternoon sun.”
  • The Lake of Masks is a magical lake, that “doesn’t reflect your own face—it shows you someone else who has looked or will look into it.”
  • Jude describes some of the fae. “There are hobs born with lined faces like tiny, hairless cats and smooth-limbed nixies whose true age shows only in their ancient eyes.”
  • Jude is compelled by a faerie to drink and dance at a party. Jude isn’t able to stop of her own accord because a stranger “compelled me to drink, and so I drank; the grass-green faerie wine slipping down my throat like nectar. He danced me around the hill. It was fun at first, the kind of terrifying fun that makes you screech to be put down half the time and feel dizzy and sick the rest. But when the fun wore off and I still couldn’t stop, it was just terrifying. It turned out that my fear was equally amusing to him, though.”
  • Vivi can summon beings called ragwort ponies and, “They look a little like sea horses and will ride over land and sky, according to Vivi’s command, keeping their seeming for hours before collapsing back into weeds.”
  • After rescuing a human servant, Jude explains the world of Faerie. The girl responds, “I always wanted there to be magic. Isn’t that funny? I wanted there to be an Easter Bunny and a Santa Claus. And Tinker Bell, I remember Tinker Bell. But I don’t want it. I don’t want it anymore.”

Spiritual Content

  • None

by Sara Mansfield

 

 

 

 

Fablehaven #1

Siblings Kendra and Seth spend the summer visiting their grandparents. The first week of their visit is confined by their grandfather’s strict rules to stay in the yard and not explore the property. Then Kendra uncovers a secret journal with a single note in it, “Drink the milk.”

 Kendra and Seth drink the milk the caretaker leaves out every morning for the butterflies, and suddenly their eyes are opened. The insects surrounding them transform into beautiful fairies and they learn the property, called Fablehaven, is a home for magical, mystical creatures. The siblings are not allowed to explore the property beyond the yard because it is full of dangerous beings. Then, on Midsummer’s Eve, the yard and home’s protections are lifted, and all creatures are allowed to roam free. The terror of the evening leads to a dangerous adventure that will require courage from the young siblings in order to save their family.

Fablehaven highlights the importance of courage, following rules, and loyalty. Seth and Kendra struggle with following rules they feel are unfair, even though the rules are in place to protect them. In the end, the siblings must surmount their fears and face a terrifying situation to overcome evil forces and save their family. The magical fights and demons in the book may be disturbing for some readers, but the scenes are brief and general in their description. However, some readers might find several of the scenes upsetting. For example, during the story, the children see their grandmother naked. Plus, she teaches them how to give a troll a massage, which sends him into a state of ecstasy.

Middle school readers will find they are able to relate to the siblings. Seth is a lovable, mischievous brother whose curiosity tends to get him into trouble. Kendra is more cautious and is frequently led out of her comfort zone by Seth. This novel is entertaining and largely plot-driven, following Seth and Kendra as they mature with their increasing responsibilities and knowledge.

Mull’s story has a slow start but the adventures that follow are worth the wait. The story’s interesting characters include witches, fairies, satyrs, imps, a troll, and a strange chicken. Despite the fantastical characters, Fablehaven’s world needs more descriptions. Still, the novel will leave the reader excited to pick up the next book in the series, Rise of the Evening Star. Readers who want a less upsetting and greatly suspenseful story that takes you into the fairy world, should read The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi & Holly Black.

Sexual Content

  • Fallen fairies, called imps, would be turned back into fairies if they were kissed by a true fairy. “In radiant bursts and sparks, every imp that was kissed transformed into a human-sized fairy!”

Violence

  • Kendra and Seth are warned of the dangers of the property’s pond by Lena, their grandfather’s associate. Lena says, “The pond can be a hazardous place. Return there now, and you would find friendly naiads beckoning you near the water in order to pull you under and drown you.”
  • When demons break into Seth and Kendra’s bedroom, one of the demons touches salt surrounding their bed. The salt causes the demon great pain and “his face and chest were charred.”
  • The siblings’ grandmother explains the necessity of taking a dangerous dart to visit the witch. She says, “This dart will slay any being that was ever mortal, including the enchanted or undead, if I can lodge it in a lethal place.”
  • Grandma Sorenson fires the dangerous dart at the witch. “The arrow took flight. . . Muriel shrieked and toppled back against the net of knotted ropes, a manicured hand covering the front of her shoulder. She rebounded forward, falling on her knees, panting, still clutching her shoulder, black feathers protruding between her slender fingers.”
  • Kendra needs some of the property’s giant cow’s blood for an elixir. She climbs up a ladder to get to its udder and “plunges the weed digger into the spongy flesh. The tool sank almost to the handle, and Viola made a terrified bellow.”
  • Kendra also needs her own blood for the elixir. “Gritting her teeth, she stuck her thumb with the pin and then squeezed two drops of blood into the mixture.”
  • The fairies and demons fight to try and imprison the escaped demon, Bahumat. The fighting begins when, “The winged beasts clawed their smaller opponents, but the fairies adroitly evaded the blows and slashed off their wings.” This violence is described over five pages.

Drugs and Alcohol

  • While the kids are asleep, Grandpa Sorenson has satyrs over for a party. He explains, “It was not a party for young people. As caretaker, your grandfather would never drink, but I can’t vouch for the satyrs.”
  • The satyrs lecture Seth and Kendra for foiling their plan to steal the ogresses’ soup, saying, “If you spoiled our wine, that would be another story.”
  • The satyrs explain they would like batteries for their television. The satyrs say, “Then we can trade for more. Gold, booze, you name it.”
  • Grandma Sorenson warns Kendra against smelling beautiful flowers. Grandma Sorenson says the flowers are “more addictive than most drugs. Sampling a lotus blossom awakens a craving that will never be silenced. Many have wasted their lives pursuing and consuming the petals of those bewitching flowers.”

Language

  • After meeting the satyrs, Seth describes them as “idiots.”

Supernatural

  • Grandpa Sorenson explains the dangers of Muriel, the witch. “Before long, she became enamored with the power of witchcraft. . . Her husband tried to help her, but she was already too demented.”
  • Grandpa Sorenson discusses the dangers of the Society of the Evening Star saying, “members of the Society consort with demons and practitioners of the black arts.”
  • Grandma Sorenson discusses the imprisoned demon. “Long ago, this land was possessed by a powerful demon named Bahumat. . . The natives made whatever offerings the demons seemed to require, but still they lived in fear.”
  • Grandma Sorenson discusses the danger of the witch, saying, “Muriel is a student of evil.”
  • At the end of the battle against the demon, Kendra looks around at the fairies surrounding her and reflects that she “had seen many fairies fall during the battle, but most had been revived and healed by the magic of their comrades.”

Spiritual Content

  • None

by Paige Smith

Caramel Moon

Melli the Caramel Fairy can’t wait for the Caramel Moon Festival—the candy corn crops are picked in the moonlight and there’s a big celebration. When Melli notices that there is something wrong in the fields, she needs her friends to help figure out who—or what—is trying to ruin their treats.

One of the fairies tells Melli a story about Lupa the Sugar Fairy. “She was sure that a troll was stealing her sugar fruit chews and wanted to protect her candy. Lupa caught the troll in the middle of the night and sent him back over the Frosted Mountains. She was very brave.” Melli and her friends use the Lupa story to come up with a way to catch the candy stealing culprit. The story allows Melli to be brave and save the candy corn.

The third installment of the Candy Fairies Series focuses on Melli’s dilemma—she must find out why the candy corn isn’t growing properly. In order to trick the Chuchies, the fairies work together and come up with a plan to defeat them. Like the first two books in the series, the Chuchies are the predictable villain. This time around, the Chuchies are defeated when they eat too much candy.

Caramel Moon is a super sweet story about friendship. The fairies use candy language such as saying “sure as sugar” and “you can bet your sugar fruit chews.” The story begins with a map of the Candy Kingdom. The Peppermint Grove and other elements will remind readers of the game Candy Land. Black and white illustrations appear every 2 to 3 pages, and show the fairies wearing pretty dresses. Although most of the fairies look similar, one fairy is African American. The story is best suited for proficient readers who are ready for chapter books.

The friends emulate positive traits and are always willing to help each other. Part of Caramel Moon revolves around a favorite band, Sugar Pops, coming to sing. This element gives the story a more mature tone. In the end, Melli gets permission for her sister to enjoy the Sugar Pop’s show.

Even though the book is a series, readers do not have to read them in order. Caramel Moon is a sweet story that highlights the importance of asking for help and being kind to others, including your younger sisters. Young readers will enjoy spending time in Sugar Valley with the fairies. Readers looking for more fairy fun should also read Rainbow Magic: The Pet Fairies Series by Daisy Meadows.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • “Hot caramel,” “holy peppermint,” “licking lollipops,” and “choc-Caramel” are used as an exclamation.

Supernatural

  • The fairies have magical powers. For example, Melli spreads fine sugar dust over crops to help them grow quickly.

Spiritual Content

  • None

Rainbow Swirl

Candy Fair is one of the biggest candy events in Sugar Valley. Raina the Gummy Fairy is serious about winning first prize. She follows all the rules to make the perfect new candy. Raina wants her friends to be excited about entering the contest as well. But Berry is more interested in making jewelry and Dash is busy making a new sled for the Marshmallow Slopes.

When a terrible storm blows through Gummy Forest, all of Raina’s dreams are washed away. Despite this, she gathers her friends and helps clean the forest so animals can find their homes. After Raina takes care of the animals, she goes back to check on her candy berries. She thinks they are ruined because all of the colors and flavors have blended together. Her friends still encourage her to enter her candy into the contest, but is there anyway her imperfect candy can win the contest?

Many readers will relate to Raina, who isn’t afraid to show that she is smart. Raina loves research and knows the entire Fairy Code Book by heart, but sometimes her “fairy friends made fun of her for following the rules so closely.” However, in the story, all of Raina’s friends are supportive even though they have different interests.

Rainbow Swirl doesn’t have a villain because the conflict comes from Raina’s conflicting emotions about her friends not wanting to make candy for the Berry Fair. Readers will relate to Raina’s conflict and understand her fears. In the end, the friendship between the fairies will keep readers engaged.

Even though Raina’s friends don’t want to participate in the Berry Fair, they still support Raina’s efforts. Raina’s friends help her because they gave her “the courage to see that something not perfect might be better than planned.” Raina doesn’t win the contest, but she is recognized for her acts of kindness.

Rainbow Swirl begins with a map of the Candy Kingdom. The Peppermint Grove and other elements will remind readers of the game Candy Land. The book is crammed full of candy references such as “sure as sugar” and “whoever heard of such a gummy thing.” Black and white illustrations appear every 2 to 3 pages and show the fairies wearing pretty dresses. Although most of the fairies look similar, one fairy is African American.

Rainbow Swirl is a sweet, engaging story that proficient readers will enjoy. The story focuses on friendship and teaches important lessons. For example, Raina learns that “sometimes the greatest surprises come from the most unlikely places.” In a world where perfection is often glorified, parents will appreciate Rainbow Swirl’s message that something doesn’t have to be perfect in order to be great.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

The fairies say exclamations such as “chocolate sprinkles,” “holy peppermint,” and “sour sticks”

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Tooth Fairy’s Night

The Tooth Fairy wakes up and prepares for a night collecting teeth and leaving money under pillows. First, she enters a little girl’s room and gets the tooth but she has a hard time wiggling it free from under the pillow. Then, she flies to a little boy’s room, where she has to use fairy dust to put the dog to sleep. The Tooth Fairy takes a break for a cup of tea and some cake.

The Tooth Fairy goes to another house, where a cat takes a swipe at her. It’s a good thing that the fairy can fly so fast. At the last house, the Tooth Fairy has to squeeze between a zoo of stuffed animals. When the job is done, the Tooth Fairy flies home, brushes her teeth, and goes to bed.

Tooth Fairy’s Night is intended for children who know the alphabet and are eager to begin reading. With large text, easy words, and full-page pictures on every page, Tooth Fairy’s Night is a quick story to read. Each page has 2 to 7 words and many of the sentences only have one word.

Younger readers will enjoy both the story and the cute illustrations that fill every page. While the Tooth Fairy is magical, she is also very similar to every child—she packs a lunch, feeds her pet, and brushes her teeth before bed. Conflict is built when the fairy has to struggle to open a window, watch out for a pet, and stay out of a cat’s paws. The fairy is adorably cute, dances through her work, and when she takes her wings off, she looks just like other little girls.

The story is perfect for preschool and kindergarten readers who are ready to learn to read. Parents will enjoy reading the story aloud, especially because it’s such a quick read. Readers will enjoy looking at the pictures that are packed with fun details such as a child’s drawings hanging on the wall and the pretty flowers outside of the window. After reading Tooth Fairy’s Night, younger readers just might want to put on their own wings and pretend to fly around the house.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • When the tooth fairy enters a house with a dog, she uses “sleep dust” and soon the dog is “out like a log.”

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

Chocolate Dreams

Life in Sugar Valley is deliciously fun! Cocoa the chocolate fairy is so excited. The fairy princess picked her to watch over the special chocolate eggs for the spring Egg Parade. But right before the parade, the eggs are missing from the nest!

Cocoa and her friends discover that the troll under the bridge ordered the Chuchies to bring the eggs to him. With the help of her friends, Cocoa finds the courage to tell Princess Lolli that the eggs are missing. Princess Lolli and Cocoa devise a trick to get the chocolate eggs back.

Chocolate Dreams is a super sweet story that has many candy references that readers will find cute. For example, one fairy has a “huge chocolate mess” and the troll who lives under a bridge is “a salty old troll” who lives in the Black Licorice Swamp. Readers will wish that they could visit Sugar Valley and enjoy some of the sugary snacks.

When the chocolate eggs disappear, Cocoa’s desire to find the eggs provides enough suspense to keep readers entertained. The predictable villain and his minions aren’t scary. His minions are “Chuchies” who are “sneaky creatures” who live in the swamp. Chuchies have “pom-pom bodies” and “short, thin legs.”

Chocolate Dreams begins with a map of the Candy Kingdom. The Peppermint Grove and other elements will remind readers of the game Candy Land. Black and white illustrations appear every 2 to 3 pages and show the fairies wearing pretty dresses. Although most of the fairies look similar, one fairy is African American. The story is best suited for proficient readers who are ready for chapter books.

The fairies’ friendship is super sweet and they emulate positive traits. For example, when the chocolate eggs are stolen, Cocoa’s friends encourage her to tell the truth. In addition, when Cocoa is in trouble her friends “dropped everything” to help her. Chocolate Dreams takes readers into an imaginative world that will engage readers as it teaches important lessons about honesty and friendship.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • The fairies say exclamations such as “peppermint sticks,” “Holy peppermint” and “bittersweet chocolate.”

Supernatural

  • The fairies have magic. “Chocolate Fairies had chocolate magic. They could create chocolate candy with a simple touch.”

Spiritual Content

  • None

A Court of Wings and Ruin

In this thrilling third installment of the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, Feyre has infiltrated the spring court and must play a deadly game to gather information on Tamlin’s movements and learn how to defeat the King of Hyburn. After a failed attack on Hyburn, Feyre was forced to return to the spring court with Tamlin. What Tamlin did not know was that he was bringing back the Queen of the night court. Now Feyre is on a mission to take down Tamlin and his court from the inside. She is determined to save her mate, her sisters, and her court.

As Feyre spies on Tamlin, she is also scheming to turn the court against him. When Feyre learns of the King’s true plans for the war, she knows she must get back to the night court to warn her family before it is too late. As war approaches, Feyre must navigate the politics of the high lords and learn who can be trusted. Will Feyre be able to stop the King’s plans before it’s too late? Can she maneuver the high lords and win this war against Hyburn? The harrowing saga continues as Feyre gets closer to the truth, figures out how to use her own powers to stop the King of Hyburn, and saves both the human and faerie worlds.

Feyre has mastered her powers and proves to be a strong leading lady throughout the novel. The story focuses more on Feyre and her sisters and how their relationship heals and evolves. The motif of sister relationships is important, as it portrays the family working through their problems to become even closer and stronger. A Court of Wings and Ruin shows the evolving friendships and details how the characters learn to work with different courts to defeat the King together. The characters are funny, witty, and are what keep readers coming back for more.

Prythian is set in a magical world, but this fantasy brings the reader into a different world filled with imagination and excitement. This novel has a great representation of strong female characters and healthy friendships and relationships. This series is at times funny, romantic, sad, and exciting, so it has something for every reader.

A Court of Wings and Ruin will leave fans satisfied because it does not leave any loose ends. It brings the suspense to a peak as the war that has been brewing begins. The war shows both the politics behind it and the battles themselves, but these repetitive scenes can become tiresome. Despite this, every scene adds meaning to the story. The complicated plot brings in new characters and shows brutal fighting. In this third installment of Sarah J. Maas’s series, the characters delve into war, heartbreak, love, and friendship to save the world together.

Sexual Content

  • Feyre and Rhys are reunited after months of being apart and have an intimate moment that lasts for about three pages. Feyre’s “hands shot into his [Rhys’s] hair, pulling him closer as I answered each of his searching kisses with my own, unable to get enough, unable to touch and feel enough of him. Skin to skin, Rhys nudged me towards the bed, his hands kneading my rear as I ran my own over the velvet softness of him, over every hard plane and ripple.”
  • Feyre and Rhys have a flirty moment together. “His hand began a lethal, taunting exploration up my thigh, his fingers grazing along the sensitive inside. Rhys leaned in again, kissing my neck – that place right under my ear – and then he was gone.”

 Violence

  • Rhys has a flashback to the first war when he had to check the corpses to make sure they were not his friends. “A half-shredded Illyrian wing jutted out from a cluster of High Fae corpses, as if it had taken all six of them to bring the warrior down. My aching, bloodied fingers dug into dented armor and clammy, stiff flesh as I heaved away the last of the High Fae corpses piled atop the fallen Illyrian soldier.”
  • While in the forest, Feyre finds “what was left of three bodies, their shredded pale robes like fallen ashes through the small clearing.” They were killed by two of Highburn’s soldiers. Their murder was not described.
  • Feyre and Tamlin get into a fight and his power “explodes” with his anger. “Furniture splintered and went flying, windows cracked and shattered. The worktable slammed into me [Feyre] throwing me against the bookshelf, and every place where flesh and bone met wood ached.”
  • Tamlin whips one of his soldiers for “losing the keys” to the gatehouse. “As he [Tamlin] drew back the whip, the thunderous crack as it cleaved the air snapped through the barracks, the estate.”
  • Feyre finds Ianthe, the high priestess, harassing Lucien and uses her mind control powers to make Ianthe smash her own hand with a rock. “Ianthe brought the stone up. The first impact was a muffled, wet thud. The second was an actual crack. The third drew blood.”
  • In order to escape, Feyre and Lucien fight off two soldiers, Dragdan and Brannagh. Lucien kills Brannagh as “a tremor shuddered through the clearing—like some thread between the twins had been snipped as Brannagh’s dark head thudded onto the grass.” Feyre ends up killing Dragdan with a knife that she “punched into his eye, right into the skull behind it.” This fight lasts for two pages.
  • Feyre and Lucien flee to the autumn court where they are attacked by three of Lucien’s brothers. One of his brothers, Eris, backhands Feyre “so hard her teeth went through her lip.” “He struck again before I could even fall, a punch to my gut that ripped the air from my lungs. Beyond me, Lucien had unleashed himself upon his two brothers.” The fight continues for three pages.
  • Rhys tells the story of one of his priestesses, Clotho, who was attacked by a group of males. “They cut out Clotho’s tongue so she couldn’t tell anyone who had hurt her. And smashed her hands so she couldn’t write it.”
  • Feyre and a friend fight off some Hyburn soldiers by “tearing through them with a sizzling wall of fire” and “beheading them as they come near.” This fight scene is described over a chapter.
  • There is a battle scene that Feyre describes as a “blood drenched mud pit” where soldiers were being “taken down with steel.” This battle lasts for one chapter.
  • The King of Hyburn tortures Cassian in front of Feyre and her sisters. “The King brought his foot down on one of Cassian’s wings and he screamed.” The King was stopped by Feyre’s sister, who kills the King by “ramming her sword to the hilt through the back of the King’s neck.”

 Drugs and Alcohol   

  • At a dinner meeting, someone says, “I think we’re going to need a lot more wine.”

 Language

  • Profanity is used occasionally. Profanity includes: damn, bitch, and hell.
  • While fighting, someone calls Feyre a “little bitch.”

 Supernatural

  • Feyre’s food is drugged with faebane that was “grown and tended in the King’s personal garden.” Faebane makes Feyre’s powers useless.
  • Feyre fights off Lucien’s brother, Eris, with “a wall of fire.”
  • Feyre removes her glamour to reveal “smooth skin that had been adorned with swirls and whorls of ink. The markings of a new title—and my mating bond. I [Feyre] was High Lady of the night court.”
  • Feyre visits the Bone Carver, a powerful magical creature, to see if he will help them in the war. He asks her to bring him the Ouroboros, a magical mirror. The Bone Carver says, “that is my price and I’m yours to wield.”
  • Feyre goes into Lucien’s mind to hear his thoughts. Feyre thinks, “Perhaps it made me the lowest sort of wretch, but I cast my mind toward them, toward him [Lucien]. And then I was in his body, in his head.”
  • Amren tells the story of what alien creature she used to be and how she confined herself to her human body. Amren says, “I was a soldier-assassin for a wrathful god who ruled a young world. I did not feel how you do. How I do now. Some things—loyalty and wrath and curiosity—but not the full spectrum. I had to give something up. I had to give me up. To walk out, I had to become something else entirely, so I bound myself into this body.”
  • Feyre asks for help from a supernatural creature. She never sees the creature but describes it as having “a voice both young and old, hideous and beautiful. I could feel no body heat, detect no physical presence but I felt it behind me.”
  • One of the characters is a seer who begins getting visions of the future. However, she doesn’t understand the visions.
  • A character has “an unearthly power” that allows her to “blast the trees into cinders.”
  • There is a cauldron that creates Fae life that Feyre must destroy to end the war. When she touches the cauldron, it becomes a “living bond” between them and attempts to take her life. Feyre “could not move [her] hand. I could not peel my fingers away. I was being shredded apart slowly.”
  • Amren uses Feyre to do an “unbinding spell on her to unleash the alien creature she used to be and end the battle.”

Spiritual Content

  • Ianthe, a high priestess, leads a solstice ceremony where the sunrise is supposed to “bless her and the land.” “During the ceremony, Ianthe’s back arched, her body a mere vessel for the solstice’s light to fill, and what I could see of her face was already lined in pious ecstasy. The crowd began to murmur, not at Ianthe, but at me [Feyre]… resplendent and pure in white, beginning to glow with the light of day as the sun’s path flowed directly over me instead.”

by Adeline Garren

In a Blink

In a blink of a fairy eye, Katie, Mia, Lainey, and Gabby are whisked out of their ordinary lives. The four girls are transported to Never Land, home of fairies and mermaids. The four girls want to go home eventually, but first, they want to explore the wonders of Never Land. Queen Clarion has put Tinker Bell and Prilla in charge of watching after the girls, but no one notices when Kate sneaks off in the middle of the night.

When Tinkerbell and Prilla sprinkle fairy dust on the four girls, everyone takes to flying. Everyone except Kate. When Kate sneaks off in the middle of the night, she doesn’t mean to cause trouble. But Vidia has been waiting in the shadows. Vidia promises to teach Kate to fly if Kate will bring Vidia a sock full of fairy dust. Will Vidia lead Kate into trouble? Will Kate, Mia, Lainey, and Gabby make it home?

In a Blink uses high-interest topics—fairy magic, Tinker Bell, and Never Land—to engage young readers. Fans of Disney princesses and Peter Pan will enjoy this fun chapter book aimed at young girls. The first installment of the series doesn’t have a well-developed plot but instead introduces both the humans and fairies. The three girls, Katie, Mia, Lainey, have a solid friendship even though they are completely different. Lainey’s little sister Gabby also plays a major role in the story and highlights the younger girl’s curiosity.

Two fairies, Tink and Prilla, take the girls on an adventure through the fairy kingdom. While the description of the fairy world is enchanting, not all of the fairy magic is explained, which may frustrate more advanced readers. The fairies have some fun, saying, “I’d fly backwards if I could.” Each time a fairy uses a unique saying, the saying is explained, which alleviates any confusion. Fans of Peter Pan will enjoy getting a fresh look at Tink, who has talent at fixing things. However, some readers may be disappointed that Peter Pan doesn’t appear in the story.

Even though the characters and plot are not well-developed, the foray through Never Land is interesting. The story shows how each girl and fairy is uniquely different, and each one has their own talent. The one negative aspect of the story is that Kate receives no consequence for sneaking out at night and stealing fairy dust. Instead, she is quickly forgiven; the queen tells the girls, “You are always welcome in Pixie Hollow.”

In a Blink has ten short chapters. While the short chapters and illustration make the story accessible to readers, younger readers may need help with the vocabulary. Cute black and white illustrations appear every 1-4 pages, which helps bring the fairy magic to life. The illustrations show the character’s emotions; readers will see the girls’ wonder as well as Kate’s frustration at not being able to fly. In a Blink is perfect for younger readers who want to add a sprinkle of fairy dust to their reading.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • When a fairy blinks, she accidentally transports human girls to Never Land. The fairy, Prilla, “had an unusual talent, even for a fairy. She could visit children anywhere in the world just by blinking… By visiting children, she helped keep their belief in fairies alive. And fairies thrived through children’s belief.”
  • Fairy dust can be used to make anyone fly. When Terrence sprinkles the girls with dust, Tink and Prilla teach them how to fly. When Kate is sprinkled with fairy dust, “at once, she felt a tingle from the tips of her ears to her toes. It felt like warming up next to a fire after a day of playing in the snow.”
  • Prilla blinks into the human world. When she returns “to the girls, no more than an instant had passed. Prilla hadn’t even left the room.”
  • The fairies have a set of glasses that “tell you how close to the mainland (human world) you are. The farther away you are, the harder it is to see.”
  • Never Land can change sizes. “The island had felt Gabby’s belief. It had shrunk itself to help the little girl.”

Spiritual Content

  • None

A Court of Mist and Fury

The story continues in this thrilling sequel. Feyre must heal from her torment and learn to control her newfound power. Feyre has saved Prythian from the evil tyrant Amarantha, and she has been reborn as a faerie. As Feyre adjusts to her new faerie body, she uncovers new powers she has been gifted from the high fae. Feyre struggles to overcome trauma causing her relationship with Tamlin to become increasingly strained. As their relationship deteriorates, Tamlin becomes more controlling. Eventually, Tamlin uses magic to trap Feyre inside their home. When Feyre calls for help, Rhysand, the high lord of the night court, hears her plea and saves her. Rhysand takes Feyre to the night court where her next chapter begins.

While Feyre begins to heal from her broken relationship with Tamlin, she finds an unlikely ally in Rhysand. As Feyre heals, her bond with Rhysand grows stronger; however, she must ready herself for an approaching threat. Dark plans are revealed, and Feyre realizes she might be the key to stopping an imminent war against Hyburn, an ancient land that is plotting a war to take over Prythian and the human lands. Will Feyre ever recover from her trauma? Will she let herself have feelings for the beautiful high lord of the night court? Will Feyre be able to master her new powers in time to save Prythian?

 A Court of Mist and Fury is a stunning sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses. Feyre is a strong female who leads the fighting and demonstrates great powers among the faeries. A Court of Mist and Fury focuses on the inner workings of the night court and introduces new, funny, and vibrant characters. As Feyre’s adventure continues, her new powers begin to make her a target among the high fae. Instead of backing down, she trains to control her powers and to protect herself. Feyre’s powers put a feminist spin on the series because the high lords need Feyre’s help to save Prythian. With this sequel, Maas creates a story that is even better than the first. A Court of Mist and Fury continues to dive into the rich history of the faerie world and the different courts.

Maas develops her characters in a realistic way that allows the readers to relate to her strong characters and fall in love with them. Maas allows her protagonist to have multiple relationships and friendships, showing that a broken heart is not the end of a character’s story. She allows Feyre to have multiple loves, with many highs and lows, to show a more realistic look at what it is to find love. These different love interests and friendships display the true difficulties of relationships and that, ultimately, everyone has to do what is healthiest for themselves when it comes to love. These relationships make the story more genuine and powerful, even though the setting is in a magical world. With Feyre’s heartbreak and her healing from physical trauma, the story touches on her mental health and the effects of depression. While Feyre is healing, she goes through a mourning process and comes out the other side stronger than ever. This novel delves into the raw emotion of heartbreak, depression, and the healing that everyone, human or faerie, must go through in their life.

Sexual Content

  • Feyre and Tamlin have an intimate moment. Feyre “moved on him. Lightning lashed through my veins, and my focus narrowed to his fingers, his mouth, his body on mine. His palm pushed against the bundle of nerves at the apex of my thighs, and I groaned his name as I shattered.” The scene is described over two pages.
  • To distract the court, Rhys and Feyre pretend to be a couple. They put their “show” relationship on display and Rhysand’s “hand slid higher up my thigh, the proprietary touch of a male who knew he owned someone’s body and soul. He’d apologized in advance for it- for this game, these roles we’d have to play. But I leaned into that touch, leaned back into his hard, warm body.” This exchange goes on for three pages.
  • Feyre and Rhysand stay in an inn, and they share a bed. “The fingers he’d spread over my stomach began to make idle, lazy strokes. He swirled one around my navel, and I inched imperceptibly closer, grinding up against him, arching a bit more to give that other hand access to my breasts.” They decide to not go any further sexually, as they are in the beginning stage of their relationship. This intimate moment lasts two pages.
  • Feyre and Rhys’s mating bond snaps into place, and they have sex for the first time. Rhys “deepened the kiss, and I wrapped my legs around his back, hooking him closer. He tore his lips from my mouth to my neck, where he dragged his teeth and tongue down my skin as his hands slid under my sweater and went up, up, to cup my breasts. I arched into the touch and lifted my arms as he peeled away my sweater in one easy motion.” The scene is described over three pages.

Violence

  • Rhys tells the story of how Azriel got his scars on his hands. “For the eleven years that Azriel lived in his father’s keep, she [Azriel’s stepmother] saw to it that he was kept in a cell with no window, no light. When he was eight, his brothers decided it’d be fun to see what would happen when you mix Illyrians quick healing gifts with oil and fire. The warriors heard Azriel’s screaming. But not quick enough to save his hands.”
  • Rhys and Feyre are flying when arrows attacked them. Feyre “felt the impact—felt blinding pain through the bond that ripped through my own mental shields, felt the shudder of the dozen places the arrows struck as they shot from bows hidden beneath the forest canopy.”
  • Feyre attacks a camp of faeries that have taken Rhys hostage. “The others around them shouted as I dragged my ash arrows across their throats, deep and vicious, just like I’d done countless times while hunting. One, two—then they were on the ground, whips limp. Before the guards could attack, I winnowed again to the ones nearest. Blood sprayed. Winnow, strike; winnow, strike.”
  • Valerian is attacked, and Feyre witnesses a woman impaled on a light post. The woman’s “body bent, her back arched on the impact.” As the city is being attacked, Feyre hears “screams, the beating wings, the whoosh and thud of arrows erupted in the sudden silence.”
  • Feyre attacks the Attor, a winged monster, before he can escape the attack on Valerian. The Valerian “shrieked, wings curving as I slammed into it. As I plunged those poisoned ash arrows through each wing . . . the Attor could not break free of my flaming grasp.”
  • Jurian “fires an ash bolt through Azriel’s chest” that almost kills him.
  • Feyre, Rhys, and the rest of his court try to infiltrate Hyburn and nullify the Cauldron before it can be used for evil. When they get to Hyburn, they realize it is a trap. Tamlin has sold them out to the king. The king kidnapped Feyre’s human sisters, who were “gagged and bound.”
  • The king forces Feyre’s sisters to go into the cauldron to be transformed into fairies against their will. “Elain was hoisted up between two guards and hoisted up. She began kicking then, weeping while her feet slammed into the sides of the cauldron as if she’d push off it or knock it down. The guards shoved my sister into the cauldron in a single movement.”
  • The king breaks Feyre and Rhys’s bond. “Tamlin gripped my arms as I [Feyre] screamed and screamed at the pain that tore through my chest, my left arm. A crack sounded in my ears. And the world cleaved in two as the bond was broken.”

 Drugs and Alcohol   

  • Feyre mentions drinking wine with most meals.
  • Mor tells Feyre, “come sit with me while the boys drink.”
  • Feyre talks about how Mor “had been out drinking and dancing until the mother knew when.” Feyre eludes that Cassian and Azriel have hangovers, describing them as “grumbling and wincing over breakfast, had looked like they had been run over by wagons.”
  • Feyre goes out to a nightclub with Rhys, Mor, Cassian, and Azriel. She describes “nursing her glass of wine” as Mor and Cassian “danced around the bar.”

 Language

  • Profanity is used occasionally. Profanity includes: shit, damn, ass, and hell.
  • Rhys and Feyre are having an argument and Rhys says, “I don’t give a damn what I have to do.”

Supernatural

  • Feyre asks Rhysand about his winnowing powers and he says, “Winnowing? Think of it as . . . two different points on a piece of cloth. One point is your current place in the world. The other one across the cloth is where you want to go. Winnowing… it’s like folding that cloth so that two spots align. The magic does the folding and all we do is take a step to get from one place to another.”
  • Feyre meets a water-wraith and describes her as wearing “no clothes. Her long, dark hair hung limp and her massive eyes were wholly black.”
  • Feyre uses her powers unknowingly and goes into the mind of Lucien. She describes it as, “still there, still seeing through my eyes, but only half looking through another angle in the room, another person’s vantage point – his head. I had been inside his head, had slid through his mental walls.”
  • Tamlin and Feyre get into a fight, and he gets so enraged that his power “blasted through the room.” The room is destroyed around Feyre, but she isn’t hurt. When Tamlin tries to come to her, he hits an invisible wall around her. “And I realized that the line, that bubble of protection. . . It was from me. A shield. Not just a mental one but a physical one, too.”
  • Feyre starts to feel talons growing on her hands. She describes it as “where my nails were growing, curving. Not into talons of shadow, but claws.” She can also will them away “like blowing out a candle.”
  • Rhysand tells Feyre about her power to look into other people’s minds, which is a power he also shares. “We’re called daemati- those of us who can walk into another person’s mind as if we were going from one room to another. If you were to ever encounter a daemati without those shields up, Feyre, they’d take whatever they wanted.”
  • Feyre describes Amren, one of Rhysand’s inner circle members in the night court, as being an other-worldly being inside a human body. “Her silver eyes were like nothing I had ever seen; a glimpse into the creature that I knew in my bones wasn’t high fae. Or hadn’t been born that way. The silver in Amren’s eyes seemed to swirl like smoke under glass.”
  • Rhys describes the Illyrians, a race of winged faerie warriors, since he is half Illyrian and his closest friends and court members, Cassian and Azriel, are also Illyrian. “The Illyrians are unparalleled warriors, and are rich with stories and traditions. But they are also brutal and backwards.”
  • Rhys and Feyre go to a magical prison inside a rock with “the foulest, most dangerous creatures and criminals you can imagine” to visit a prisoner called the bone carver. The bone carver is a magical creature that may “appear to you as one thing, and I might be standing right beside you and see another.”
  • Feyre sees the weaver, a scary, mythical being. She describes her with “gray skin, wrinkled and sagging and dry. Her lips had withered to nothing but deep, dark lines around a hole full of jagged stumps of teeth.”
  • Amren doesn’t eat human food, and while they are all out to dinner together, the restaurant’s owner brings her “a goblet filled with dark liquid.” After Amren takes a sip, her teeth were “gleaming with blood.”
  • Feyre practices with her water powers by “making water rise from the tub, then shaping little animals and creatures out of it.”
  • The night court celebrates a holiday called Starfall, where stars “cascaded over them filling the world with white and blue light.” Rhys tells her they’re not stars at all, but “spirits on a yearly migration to somewhere. Why they pick this day to appear here, no one knows.”

 Spiritual Content

  • Feyre meets Ianthe, one of the high priestesses of Prythian. “Among the high fae, the priestesses oversaw their ceremonies and rituals, recorded their histories and legends, and advised their lords and ladies in matters great and trivial.”
  • The bone carver tells Feyre about the Cauldron where “all magic was contained inside it and the world was born in it. It could not be destroyed, for it had made all things, and if it were broken, then life would cease to exist.”

by Adeline Garren

Granted

Everyone who wishes upon a star, a candle, or a penny thrown into a fountain knows that you’re not allowed to tell anyone what you’ve wished for. But even so, rest assured there is someone out there who hears it.

Ophelia Delphinium Fidgets is no ordinary fairy—she is a Granter: one of the select few whose job it is to venture beyond the boundaries of the Haven and grant the wishes of unsuspecting humans every day. Ophelia has never traveled into the humans’ world to grant a wish. The fairies are low on magic, so they only grant a few wishes a day.

When Ophelia is given a wish to grant, she’s excited about the adventure. She has planned for everything. With her gear packed, Ophelia ventures out in search of the coin that was wished upon. Before she makes it to her destination, an airplane smacks her, injuring her wing. Unable to fly, Ophelia befriends a dog who promises to help Ophelia chase down the coin. Will Ophelia be able to grant the wish or will she fail at her mission?

The story starts out slowly with the author giving too much detail about the fairy world. Although some of the world-building is interesting, much of the description is on minute details that did not advance the story. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t get interesting until Ophelia meets a dog halfway through the book. The curious dog offers comic relief. One of the first things the dog says is, “so since I don’t know what you are I am hoping to sniff your butt. . . I will let you sniff mine, too.”

When Ophelia first sets out for her mission, she is overconfident and has problem after problem. After several negative encounters, Ophelia realizes that following rules and being perfect are not attributes to admire. After watching a human boy, Ophelia realizes that some wishes are more important to grant than others. When it comes time for Ophelia to grant one wish, she breaks a rule in order to bring a father back to his son.

Strong readers interested in fairy lore will have to wade through heavy descriptions in Granted. However, readers will be glad they continued reading. Ophelia and the dog’s interactions are heartwarming and hilarious. The conclusion is sweet and satisfying. The advanced vocabulary, detailed descriptions, and slow-moving plot will make Granted difficult for some readers. Readers who want a peek into the fairy world may want to read 13 Treasures by Michelle Harrison or The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi instead.

Sexual Content

  • When Ophelia is sent to grant her first wish, she is glad the wisher asked for a bike instead of “a new car or something smarmy like for a sweaty boy with skater bangs and pouty lips to kiss her.”

Violence

  • Ophelia is hit by an airplane and her wing is broken.
  • When a man comes into the fairy haven, the fairies “had to dispatch a containment team to knock the poor fellow unconscious and drag him twenty miles to the nearest hint of civilization, depositing him outside a bar.”
  • Thinking that Ophelia was a bug, a man swats her. “Ophelia’s world somersaulted around her and she fought to catch her breath, her body stinging from the sudden blow. Something had knocked her, sent her soaring off the fountain and tumbling down to the cement walkway, where she landed in a heap.”
  • Ophelia goes into a café and a woman tries to swat her with a broom. “Swoosh. The head of the broom passed overhead. . .” Ophelia tries to hide in a woman’s hair when a man tries to hit her with a newspaper. Someone gets a fire extinguisher, then “a blast of white foam shot from its one giant nostril, dousing her in something like soap but thicker. . .” Ophelia “saw the giant paw of straw sweeping toward her just in time to duck out of the way.” Finally, the humans shoo Ophelia outside. The scene is described over two pages.
  • The coin Ophelia needs is taken by a man. She tries to get him to stop his car, “but he didn’t slam on the brakes as she’d hoped, and Ophelia smacked into the windshield, her face mashed, cheek to glass, one eye looking right at the man. . .” The man squirted windshield wiper fluid on Ophelia. “Instantly a stream of burring blue liquid struck Ophelia, soaking her suit and stinging her nostrils.” The windshield wipers knock Ophelia off the car’s window.
  • Ophelia is hit by a truck. “The impact sent her soaring, landing amid a pile of trash bags that had been set along the curb. . . Her wing was broken. Part of it was crushed and crumbled, a long tear working its way halfway down from the tip. . .”
  • A red-tailed hawk grabs Ophelia in his mouth and plans to turn her into a meal. Ophelia was eighteen hundred feet above the ground, “turned face up so that she could see the patch of grey on the hawk’s broad chest. . . Ophelia’s chest burned with each breath her arms struggling to get free, her legs kicked out, but it was no use—the raptor held her tight.” The bird drops her into a pond, and Ophelia almost drowns.
  • The story hints that the dog was abused. “Ophelia opened both of her arms and took a step towards him. Sam flinched. Something he’d undoubtedly learned from his master.” Later, Ophelia asks the dog to scare a man. The dog asks, “But what if he scares me back?”
  • Ophelia has to wrestle the coin out of a fairy’s hand. When she does, “the move sent her tumbling backward, out of control. She heard her already ragged wing snap once more, a final blow that rendered it completely useless. . .”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • One of Ophelia’s friends asks her, “When’s the last time you spent the day in your pajamas sitting on your porch, drinking wine, burping out loud, and watching the clouds slink by?”
  • Ophelia is given a container that is “fully weaponized fairy dust extract, chemically restructured in aerosol form. . .” When sprayed on a human or animal, they will fall asleep.
  • Ophelia names the dog Sam after she sees an empty crate of Samuel Adams Boston Lager.
  • Ophelia thinks about having a chance to open a bottle of dandelion wine.

Language

  • A girl wishes for a new bike “because some jerkface stole my last one.”
  • When Ophelia is injured and angry, she yells, “If this isn’t the biggest, boot-up-the-back-end piece of fist-sucking, pig-nosed, turkey-flapped, snotwad, vomit-crusted, wart-eating, other-punching, kitten-kicking pile of rotten, wrinkled monkey dung in the whole wide WORLD!”
  • The dog tells Ophelia that she can call him “Useless. Or Mangy Mutt. Or Worthless-Son-of-a-“
  • Ophelia is upset that a dog is following her. She says, “Of all the wood-headed, dim-witted creatures I could have possibly run into. . .”
  • A cat asks Ophelia, “Who the heck are you?”
  • A boy complains that he was outside “for three freaking hours!”

Supernatural

  • The story has fairy magic, but no spells are given.
  • In order to grant a spell, a fairy must find the object that was wished upon. When Ophelia gets close to the item, “she’d be able to hear the wish whispering in the girl’s own singsong voice.”
  • Ophelia tries to explain how a wish is embedded into an object. She says, “it’s attached to something. An object. This particular wish was made on a coin. I need the coin if I’m going to make the wish come true.”
  • Fairies can create a magical song. “For many fairies, singing had an enchanting effect, capable of making the listener dreamy eyed and woozy and warm, as if they’d polished off the last of the wine. For others it was the opposite.”

Spiritual Content

  • When a fairy dies, “her spirit takes to the sky, where it is sponged up by the clouds, mixed with rain that falls back to the earth, feeding the plants that would someday produce fairies of their own.”

A Court of Thorns and Roses #1

In her quiet village, 19-year-old Feyre has become the sole provider for her family. After her father’s fortune was squandered, Feyre was forced to step up and take care of her father and two older sisters. Miles away from Feyre’s home, there is an invisible wall separating the human world from the faerie world, Prythian. This wall has been in place for hundreds of years under a treaty to keep humans and faeries segregated and safe from each other.

One day while hunting in the forest near the invisible wall, Feyre unknowingly shoots down a faerie that took the form of a large wolf. When a shapeshifting high fae bursts into her home to claim vengeance for his fallen soldier, Feyre is taken as payment for killing the faerie wolf and brought into the faerie world to serve for the remainder of her life. As Tamlin, her captor takes her to the spring court, she begins to unravel the dark secrets hidden in the faerie world.

Feyre soon learns that Tamlin is the High Lord of the spring court and one of the most powerful faeries in Prythian. While living in Tamlin’s home, Feyre becomes more of a friend than a prisoner, then soon learns the treacherous pasts of the faerie courts, which includes the spring, summer, autumn, winter, day, and night court. While the spring court is filled with cursed masks, mystery predators, and a hidden tyrant terrorizing the faerie lands, Feyre must come to understand her new home and accept her growing feelings for Tamlin.

As Feyre’s feelings begin to soften for Tamlin, a mystery curse creeps closer to the spring court. When an evil tyrant takes Tamlin and his court from their home, it is up to Feyre to save her newfound home from the curse. Now Feyre must decide: does she go home to her father and sisters or go after Tamlin?

A Court of Thorns and Roses is full of twists and turns; Maas takes the readers to the fresh faerie world of Prythian and lays out the groundwork for a magical series filled with adventure and romance. Feyre must dive into the faerie world of deadly politics, deceit, and vengeance in this thrilling tale of fantasy, family, and love.

The novel focuses on setting up the fantasy world of Prythian, which is filled with fairies and mythical creatures, but it is also a true look at the power of family and survival. Feyre sacrifices herself, her dreams, and her safety every step of the way for her family, friends, and ultimately, for love. A Court of Thorns and Roses dives into a new universe of faeries and courts with rich, memorable characters. The story focuses on the characters’ relationships and how people from different worlds can come together to fight a common evil. A Court of Thorns and Roses shines a light on the most unlikely of people becoming friends in a divided world.

However, the politics of the faerie world and the different courts can get tiresome. Feyre compares every new character to how she could paint them, which becomes repetitive and unnecessary. A Court of Thorns and Roses is a slow burn, and it gets better as it goes on. As the story continues, this book is hard to put down and becomes a nail-biter. This story highlights the true strength of women through Feyre’s character, who becomes an unlikely hero in the faerie world. Feyre comes to the rescue of Tamlin, which reverses the generic “damsel in distress” trope readers have seen time and time again. Fans of Holly Black and Cassandra Clare will fall in love with Sarah J. Maas’s fantasy as she introduces the world of Prythian.

Sexual Content

  • Feyre discusses her two-year love affair with a boy from the village. She describes all of their encounters as “a rush of shedding clothes and shared breaths and tongues and teeth.”
  • Tamlin and Feyre have an encounter in the hallway after Tamlin has been involved in a faerie ritual that makes him act more predatory than human. He ends up biting her, then “the bite lightened, and his tongue caressed the places his teeth had been. He didn’t move – he just remained in that spot, kissing my neck. Heat pounded in my head, and as he ground his body against me, a moan slipped past my lips.” Feyre’s moan causes Tamlin to come back to reality.
  • Tamlin and Feyre have their first kiss. “He brushed his lips to mine – soft and warm. My hands went around his neck, pulling him closer, crushing myself against him. His hands roved my back, playing in my hair, grasping my waist, as if he couldn’t touch enough of me at once.”
  • Tamlin and Feyre have sex for the first time. “We were a tangle of limbs and teeth, and I tore at his clothes, and then tore at his skin until I marked him down his back, his arms. His hands were devastatingly gentle on my hips as he slid down in between my thighs and feasted on me, stopping only after I shuddered and fractured. I was moaning his name when he sheathed himself inside me in a powerful, slow thrust that had me splintering around him.”

Violence

  • Feyre kills a wolf, that has just killed a deer, and then skins the wolf. The wolf “didn’t try to dodge the arrow as it went clean through his wide yellow eye.” Feyre describes “wrapping the bloody side of his pelt around the doe’s death wound” before she takes it home with her.
  • Feyre describes a memory of when thugs beat up her father for losing investment money. “That creditor and his thugs had burst into the cottage and smashed his knee again and again. I had stayed, begging and weeping through every scream of my father, every crunch of bone.”
  • Feyre fights off the naga, or “faeries made of shadow and hate and rot.” She shoots one with her bow and arrow and it “struck home and blood sprayed.” Tamlin comes to help her and “shredded through his companion’s neck, flesh and blood ripped away.” The scene is described over two pages.
  • An injured faerie comes to Tamlin’s home with “blood oozing from black velvety stumps on the faerie’s back . . . as if his wings had been sawed off.”
  • Some faerie men try to attack Feyre and “herd and push me towards the line of trees” before Rhysand steps in to save her.
  • Feyre sees the body of a girl, who had been mistaken for herself and tortured by Amarantha as a result. “Her skin was burned in places, her fingers were bent at odd angles, and garish red lines criss-crossed her naked body.”
  • Rhysand is forced to “shatter the mind” of a traitor faerie and kills him with only his mind. “The faerie male’s eyes went wide – then glazed as he slumped to the floor. Blood leaked from his nose, from his ears, pooling on the floor.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • Feyre talked too much because of “the wine she had at dinner.”
  • Feyre drinks faerie wine and “it was like a million fireworks exploded inside me, filling my veins with starlight.” This makes her giddy and she dances a lot.
  • Feyre is forced to drink magical faerie wine that makes her “memory a dark blur of wild music.” After she drinks the wine, she has no control over her actions and is forced to dance for hours in front of the faeries.

Language

  • Townspeople call the Children of the Blessed “faerie-loving whores.”
  • Profanity is used occasionally. Profanity includes: shit, damn, and hell.

Supernatural

  • On their journey into the faerie world, Tamlin uses magic to put Feyre to sleep and to “keep my limbs tucked in to prevent me going for my knife.”
  • Feyre describes Tamlin changing from his beast form into his faerie form. “The beast plopped into the chair, and, in a flash of white light, turned into a golden-haired man.”
  • Tamlin tells the story of the curse on his lands and the “blight that caused a magical surge during a masquerade ball forty-nine years ago” that left the spring court permanently stuck in masks.
  • Feyre encounters an evil faerie creature in the forest called the Bogge. It gets inside her head and tries to make her look at it because “when you acknowledge it, that’s when it becomes real. That’s when it can kill you.”
  • Another faerie creature tricks Feyre into seeing an apparition of her father “near the open gate, beckoning me to hurry.”
  • Feyre traps a Suriel that has “a face that looked like it had been crafted from dried, weatherworn bone, its skin either forgotten or discarded, a lipless mouth and too-long teeth held by blackened gums, slitted holes for nostrils, and milky white eyes.”
  • Feyre encounters a “giant worm, or what might have once been a worm had its front end not become an enormous mouth filled with ring after ring of razor-sharp teeth.”

Spiritual Content

  • Feyre describes villagers “praying to the long-forgotten gods” to not encounter faeries on their hunts.
  • Feyre and her sisters run into the “Children of the Blessed,” who are missionaries that worship the high fae as gods.

by Adeline Garren

 

The Bone Houses

Deep in the mountains lies Annvyn, a land once populated by fairy folk and filled with magic. Hundreds of years ago, Arawn, the king of the Otherfolk, was betrayed by humankind. The Otherfolk abandoned their stronghold at Castell Sidi, but they left dangerous magic behind.

Ryn is proud to be the gravedigger of the village of Colbren, just like her father before her. But her job is becoming harder as the dead keep coming back as sinister magical creatures known as bone houses. Ellis is an apprentice mapmaker searching for his long-lost family. Together they must travel into the heart of Annvyn to seek the answers to both of their issues.

The Bone Houses focuses heavily on the bone houses. These magically reanimated human corpses are essential to the plot and are often described in great detail both in and out of battle. These descriptions have the potential to scare younger readers and, as they often include gory details about the human body, should be approached with caution by readers with weaker stomachs.

The Bone Houses is a fast-paced, Polish-inspired fantasy with a uniquely post-magical setting. The quest-based plot keeps the story moving forward, with quieter world-building and character moments balanced out by exciting, fast-paced battles. Strong, fierce Aderyn and gentle, intelligent Ellis make such a good team that readers will find it easy to root for them to succeed, both on their quest and as a couple. It is easy to get lost in the mysterious allure of Annyvn, which Lloyd-Jones describes beautifully. The story certainly has a darker edge to it, exploring the unintended consequences that magic can have, even when controlled by the most well-meaning of people.

Sexual Content

  • Ellis asks Ryn if the innkeeper is “trying to find [her] a spouse.”
  • After a conversation with a young boy, Ellis tells Ryn, “I’m pretty sure he thinks we’re having an illicit romance and your family disapproves of me.”
  • Ellis describes Ryn. “The firelight burnished her red-brown hair to a blazing crimson, and something about the angle of her chin and jaw made his heart clench painfully.”
  • When Ryn smiles at Ellis he experiences a feeling “like the times he slipped on a patch of ice or a slick rock—weightlessness in his belly and anticipation of the fall.”
  • Ellis gets embarrassed when Ryn strips to bathe in a creek. When he turns to give her privacy, she says, “I’m not naked. There’s cloth covering all the relevant bits.”
  • Ryn asks if Ellis is “not one for the ladies?” She then tells him, “If you prefer the lads that’s fine.”
  • Ellis covers Ryn with his cloak as she sleeps, describing it as “A moment of sentimentality that he could ill afford. . . But he would allow himself this foolishness, if only because no one else would see it.”
  • After Ryn is attacked by a bone house, she and Ellis have a moment. “He wanted to kiss her. He felt half sick with yearning. . . It was her surety, her fierce sense of purpose; he wanted to draw it into himself. Her eyes were steady on his, and she did not pull away.” They do not kiss.
  • Ryn contemplates her growing feelings for Ellis. “She wasn’t sure when she’d begun to regard him as hers. Her friend, her ally, and one of those few people she wanted to keep safe. And if she liked the way his dark hair fell across his eye or how his voice rasped when he said her name—well. That was beside the point.”
  • When Ellis saves Ryn from drowning, she “wanted to throw her arms around him, hold on until she was sure they were both alright, until she’d worked up the nerve to press her face into the hollow of his shoulder.”
  • When Ryn looks at him, Ellis says he can feel her gaze “like being pierced through: the sharpest, sweetest pain he could imagine,” and describes her as “truly lovely.”
  • Ellis says that he “wanted to touch the hollow of [Ryn’s] throat, feel her heart beating beneath his fingertips. He wanted to push the hair behind her ears and kiss the freckles scattered across her shoulders. He wanted to tell her that he wouldn’t leave—not like the others.”
  • Ryn and Ellis finally discuss their feelings for one another and Ryn kisses Ellis, “with a determined ferocity.” Their conversation is about three pages long, and the description of the actual kiss lasts for about a page.

Violence

  • Ryn encounters a bone house and grapples with it. “The woman staggered, reaching out for Ryn. Ryn ducked back, but the woman’s brittle fingers caught her on the shoulder. She felt the rake of nails, the fingers stiffen in death. Ryn tore the axe free, and there was another nauseating wrenching sound, like tissues being torn apart. The dead woman fell to the ground.”
  • While sleeping in the woods, Ellis is attacked by a bone house. “[Ellis] reached for the only weapon he possessed: a walking stick. He jabbed it toward the man, trying to hit him around the shoulders and head. But it was little use.”
  • Ceri, Ryn’s younger sister, jokingly suggests getting rid of someone with, “a few poisonous berries slipped into a jar of blackberry preserves.”
  • Ryn and Ellis are attacked by three armed bone houses that were soldiers before they died. Ryn “threw the axe. It flung wildly through the air, and only its handle hit the bone house in the chest. The chain mail slowed the blow but could not halt it. Ryn rushed the creature, seizing her axe from the ground and aiming another blow at the bone house’s unprotected throat. Its head dropped to the undergrowth.” The fight is described over four pages.
  • A villager is killed by a bone house. The villager “did not beg. Nor did he raise an arm to defend himself when the bone house brought the sword down across his throat.”
  • A large number of bone houses attack the village. “Distantly [Ellis] heard the sounds of shouting and the clash of metal upon metal. The bone houses weren’t only attacking the house. They must be everywhere.” Preparations for the battle and the fight itself are described over about eight pages.
  • Ryn’s younger sister is attacked by the bone house of their uncle. “This bone house stank of rotted flesh, and his white hair trailed from his skull. He did not speak, but a terrible noise emanated from his chest—a rusty groan. His fingers were blackened with rot, and they were tangled in Ceridwen’s hair. And in his other hand was a dirty knife.”
  • Ryn’s family owns an overprotective goat, who attacks several bone houses. She uses “her horns gouging one’s hip.” She is ultimately outnumbered and killed.
  • An incident from Ellis’s past is described in which a girl “kicked him to the ground and kept him there with a foot on his left shoulder.” Ellis suffers from an injury to that shoulder that never properly healed and causes him great pain.
  • Ryn leaves her brother with instructions to “brain” the Lord in charge of their village if he tries to send them to a workhouse.
  • Ryn and Ellis discover a community of people living with the bone houses of their dead relatives. When one of the residents finds out about their quest, she attacks Ryn. “Aderyn was on her back, legs kicking wildly as Catrin pressed her to the floor. The woman’s hands were on Aderyn’s shoulders, gripping with bruising force, and she was saying, “—can’t, you can’t—,” as if this were a conversation.”
  • As they pass through the mine, Ryn and Ellis are attacked by bone houses, and Ellis is pulled underwater. Ellis “tried to push himself upright, but something hung to him tightly. He struck out at the thing, bubbles emerging from his lips. He blinked and the water stung his eyes, but there was nothing to see, nothing to hear. His elbow connected with something hard and he felt it give, snapping beneath the blow.” The fight is described for six pages.
  • While crossing the Llyn Mawr, a large enchanted lake, Ryn and Ellis are attacked by a creature called an Alfac. “It had small scales that glittered in the sunlight like small opals. Its teeth were sharp as daggers, angled inward. Meant for ripping and tearing.” The creature capsizes their boat and pulls Ryn under. “[Ryn] touched a stone that seemed larger than the rest. Her fingers curled around its rough exterior, and before she could hesitate, she drove the rock into one of the fancy’s golden eyes.” The description of the fight lasts for three pages.
  • A group of bone houses emerge from the lake and attack Ryn and Ellis. “The bone houses dragged Ellis through the door and into the courtyard. One of his hands seized the frame, fingers straining, but then he was jerked free. He vanished into the darkness.” The fight is described over ten pages.
  • Ryn and Ellis discover the bone house of Ellis’s mother, who attacks Ryn. “Ellis knew that sound would follow him into his nightmares—the resounding crack of the cauldron striking Ryn, and then the thud of her body hitting the floor. She was so still that she might have been dead. And for one terrible heartbeat, he thought she was. Then her fingers twitched and she made this noise. A whimper in the back of his throat.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • Hywel, one of the villagers in Colbern, suggests he and Ryn “stop by the Red Mare” for a drink.
  • Ryn describes her uncle as having been “soused” when he died.
  • Ryn gives Ellis feverfew to help with the pain in his shoulder. He jokingly asks if she is planning to keep him “in a slightly drugged state of good cheer.”
  • Ryn and Ellis find an old bottle of wine and get drunk. “The liquid was thick in [Ellis’s] mouth. He swallowed hastily, but even in its absence the wine lingered on his tongue. It tasted of burnt honey and orange rinds. Warmth bloomed in his chest.”

Language

  • Both “Bloody” and “Fallen Kings” are used as curses a few times.
  • Ellis describes Ryn’s uncle as an “ass.”

 Supernatural

  • As a child, Ryn encounters a bone house for the first time. “She had seen bodies before, but they were always gently wrapped in clean clothes and then lowered into the ground. They were peaceful. This thing moved slowly under the weight of armor, and a sword jutted from its belt. And it stank.”
  • While keeping watch for bone houses, Ryn describes the night as “dark enough for magic.”
  • After Ryn saves Ellis from a bone house, she asks if he “[spoke] the name of the Otherking three times” or “dabbled in magic.”
  • Ellis is surprised to see an iron gate surrounding the village of Colbren, to which Ryn replies, “Cities took down their iron protection when the Otherfolk left. But you’ll find us countryfolk a little more wary.”
  • Ryn recalls a story her mother told her about how Colbren came to be protected by the fairies. “One day, a woman had ventured into the mountain forests with a basket of her finest wares. She carried golden churned butter, and fresh loaves of bread studded with dried fruits, and apples that tasted of autumn sunlight. . . If you let us be, she said, we will bring offerings again.”
  • Ryn describes Annvyn, the destination she and Ellis seek, as “The land of the Otherfolk. The birthplace of monsters, of magic, and where Arawn used to rule.”
  • Chapter six consists of Ryn telling Ellis several stories about Annvyn. “It was the king of the Otherfolk, Arwan, who made his home there. Castell Sidi, a fortress of granite and enchantment, rose up beside a clear mountain lake, the Llyn Mawr. It is said he brought magic with him—for he was immortal and lovely, and he could weave enchantments as easily as we spin wool. And where he went, other magical creatures followed.” She also describes how a magical artifact left behind in Castell Sidi caused the bone houses.
  • Ryn asks Ellis to accompany her to Castell Sidi, saying “All of this began when the cauldron of rebirth was cracked. It must have made the magic go awry—I thought, if I could destroy the cauldron altogether, the magic would vanish.”
  • The family goat comes back to life as a bone house. “For one moment, Ellis wondered if perhaps it had been asleep this whole time. But that couldn’t be—it had a gaping wound in its side. It had died. They had all heard it being killed.”
  • Ryn and Ellis come upon a community where people are living with the bone houses of their deceased loved ones. Ryn discovers this fact when she meets the dead mother of their host. “She’d been dead long enough for her skin to stretch tight, for desiccation to set into the flesh, yet not long enough so that her hair had lost its shine. It had been recently brushed, and it was that detail that stuck in Ryn’s mind.”
  • Ryn describes different stories she has heard about Annvyn. “How it was the otherworld, the Not-Place, where Arawn had ruled over his court at Castell Sidi, where red-eyed hounds caught game for their master, where men vanished for a decade only to reappear not a day older.”
  • Ryn is visited by the bone house of her father who guides her to Castell Sidi. “They walked through the forest, dead man and living girl . . . They walked in silence—that was one thing Ryn had always liked about the dead. There was no need to talk.”
  • Ryn and Ellis are attacked by the Alfan, an ancient lake creature that lives in the Llyn Mawr. “This creature was untouched by time and blades. It was a remnant of another age, and she could not kill it.”
  • When Ryn breaks the cauldron the bone houses die. “[Ellis’s] mother sank to the floor; Ellis sought to keep her upright, his arms locked around her, but it was to no avail. His mother was fading, the magic slipping away. Her fingers traced his cheek, and then clattered to the floor.”

Spiritual Content

  • Ryn says that she “retreated to the forest the way some people took refuge in chapels.”
  • While thinking about her father’s disappearance, Ryn mentions that her family had no burial rituals without his body. “No draping of white cloth, no placement of fresh flowers, no building a mound of stones.”
  • Ryn says that her father believed in “respect due to the dead,” and that’s why in the graveyard “the little rituals were always observed.”

by Evalyn Harper

Guest: A Changeling Tale

Mollie knows that it’s dangerous to praise a baby. The Kinde Folke, who are anything but kind, may overhear and snatch the beautiful child away. Mollie loves her baby brother Thomas and somehow flattering words escape. She knows her baby brother could be snatched, but she isn’t expecting a hideous changeling to take his place. When her brother disappears, her father leaves town and her mother tries to keep the changeling alive. Mollie’s mother hopes that the Kinde Folke will take the changeling home and return Thomas.

Mollie watches the joy and strength leave her mother. In the hopes of saving her family, Mollie decides to sneak away and return Guest (the changeling) to the Kinde Folke. But the Kinde Folke do not want Guest back, and they will do everything in their power to keep Mollie from finding them. Determined, Mollie journeys over mountains and through forests filled with otherworldly foes. Can Mollie find the treacherous Kinde Folke and convince them to let go of her brother?

Mary Downing Hahn weaves a tale of frightening fairies who use trickery and violence to keep Mollie from finding her brother. Although the Irish folklore is interesting, none of the characters in the story are likable. Mollie is spoiled, mean, and says hateful words. The story hints that Guest’s father cares about him, but the man only steps in to help when Mollie and Guest are in danger. Even though Guest is described as a disgustingly ugly changeling, he grows as a person and realizes that his previous actions were wrong. Readers may be put off by the host of unlikeable characters.

As Mollie searches for her brother, she continues to make the same mistakes over and over again. If it wasn’t for the help of the traveler and sympathetic Kinde Folke, Mollie would have surely met her demise. In the end, Mollie is reunited with her brother; however, he is so mean and ill-tempered that the reader will wish that the fairy queen had sacrificed him as she had planned.

Mollie travels through the forest and has to overcome many difficulties. The changing relationship between Mollie and Guest will give readers hope. Throughout the story, several people ask Mollie, “Why must you speak your mind without giving a thought to what you say?” By reading Mollie’s story, readers will understand the need to think before they talk. Readers who are interested in folklore and the darker side of fairies will enjoy Guest: A Changeling Tale. Readers interested in folklore with mischievous and often dangerous characters should try better alternatives, such as 13 Treasures by Michelle Harrison or The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black.

 Sexual Content

  • Mollie finds out that Guest’s father is Madog. Guest’s half-brother says that Guest’s mother “should not have lain with Madog.”

Violence

  • Mollie’s mother thinks about taking the changeling baby to the crossroads. “Those who’d killed themselves were buried in this place. Murderers, too, and thieves, all those who weren’t allowed to lie in the churchyard. Changelings and unwanted babies had both been left here to die.”
  • A Stallion horse takes Mollie into the sky. When she asks to be returned, “I understood that the horse meant to dive into the lake and drown me. I lunged to one side, but the black threads of his mane wrapped themselves around me and held me fast. Into the water we plunged, going so deep, I thought I’d never see the sky again. . . I used all of my strength to push the silver heart against the horse’s neck. With a shudder, the stallion threw me from his back.” Mollie is able to swim to the surface, but the Stallion races after her. “And then, though I scarce believed what I saw, the horse changed to a man as beautiful and wild as the horse.” With the help of the traveler, Mollie is saved.
  • Guest tells Mollie that his birth mother does “not like me. Scream, hit, hurt me.”
  • Creatures “wearing tattered leaves and cobwebs” try to get Mollie to follow them. When she doesn’t, “they surrounded us, hundreds of them, no bigger than wasps. . . No longer pretending to be friendly, they pinched us, they bit. They pulled our hair as if they meant to yank it out. They tore our clothes as if they wished to strip us to our bare skin.” Mollie thrust the locket at the Tinies and “at its touch, the creatures shrieked in pain and spiraled upward.”
  • The Kinde Folke tricked Mollie into believing a wolf was her brother Thomas. The wolf “struggled to escape, and when I tightened my hold on him, he snarled and sunk his teeth into my arm. Shocked, I let him go. His lips drew back and exposed long, sharp teeth. Fur covered his body. . . As he leaned over me, poised to attack, I pulled out the locket and pressed it as hard as I could against one of his eyes. With a savage howl, he leapt backwards, one eye gone, nothing left of it but a smoking hole and the stench of burned flesh.”
  • One of the Kinde Folke appears to Mollie and her companions. When they go into a circle, “Green flames raced across the ground toward us. My skin tingled and my hair crackled. Guest and Aidan glowed as if they were burning from within. The flames vanished as quickly as they’d come, and a terrible silence fell.” When Aidan approached the woman, “the lady struck his face with her open hand. Aidan’s head snapped back and he raised an arm to protect himself from the second blow.” When the woman asks Mollie a question, Mollie stays quiet. “The air stirred before I felt the blow. Stumbling backwards, I almost knocked Guest down. He whimpered and held my skirt tightly.”
  • When Madog tries to keep Mollie from following the Kinde Folke, she “yanked the locket from around my neck and thrust it into Madog’s face. With a cry of pain, he sprang back.” When the Kinde Folke try to convince Mollie to go with them, she lifted “the locket high, I thrust it against their shoulders, their faces, their arms, their hands. The dancers screamed in pain.” The Kinde Folke flee.
  • The Kinde Folke plan on sacrificing Mollie’s brother. One of the Kinde Folke tells her, “Every seven years, we are sworn to give the Dark Lord of these lands a tithe. That’s the price we pay to roam the world as free as the wind.”
  • When a girl spills wine, the Kinde Folke’s queen called her a “stupid, clumsy girl.” The queen then “slapped Aislinn’s face so hard, the girl nearly fell from her chair.”
  • When Mollie steals her sleeping brother from the Kinde Folke, the Kinde Folke try to get him back. “The hounds were upon us, dark, long and lean, red-eyed and sharp-toothed, more like shadows than actual dogs. They ripped at the horses’ legs, leapt at their throats, and tried to pull us to the ground.” In order to escape, someone gives Mollie a pouch. Mollie “fumbled with the cord and then hurled the sack at the Kinde Folke. Its contents exploded in a flash of lighting. Small iron balls shot into the Kinde Folke crowded around us. They screamed in pain and tried to shield themselves.” Mollie and her companions are able to flee.
  • While Mollie and her companions are fleeing, “a strange darkness fell upon us. . . Thunder crashed so loudly the earth seemed to shake. Lightning exploded across the sky with a force that split the clouds.” The Dark Lord speaks, then he “destroyed the Kinde Folke just as he said he would.”
  • When Mollie brings her brother home, their father is afraid the Kinde Folke will seek vengeance. He says, “Remember what they did to the Millers’ barn and house—burned them both to the ground just because Mistress Miller refused to call them kind.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • A shapeshifter gives Mollie a “pretty little blue bottle.” The shapeshifter said the bottle contained “my elixir of health.” But Guest hit the bottle, which poured onto the ground. When a butterfly drank the elixir, “in a moment, it lay still and the ferns around it withered.”
  • During a ceremony, the Kinde Folke drinks wine. When a girl drops a glass of wine, someone says, “Bring more wine. But give none to this one. She’s had more than enough already.”
  • Mollie’s brother is given a potion that puts him to sleep.

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • Mollie has an iron necklace that is covered in silver. When the necklace touches a Kinde Folke, the necklace hurts them.
  • The story centers around the Kinde Folke, who have magical powers. “Worst of all, if the Kinde Folke learned of a beautiful baby boy’s birth, they’d steal him away and leave one of their own sickly creatures in his place.”
  • Pookas, which are ghosts, “live in dark lakes and take lasses.” A Pooka turns into a stallion and tries to keep Mollie from entering the Kinde Folke’s Dark Lands.
  • Tinies lead people into the swamp and drown them.
  • The Kinde Folke try to trick Mollie. Two of them “glamorized to look like” her parents.
  • Mollie is given a cloak that had invisibility woven into every thread.
  • Some of the characters can shapeshift.

 

Spiritual Content

  • None

When Fairies Go Bad

Everyone knows rule #1 in the dragon world: Never, ever mess with a dragon’s mama. So when Danny Dragonbreath’s mom gets kidnapped by fairies, Danny, his best friend Wendell, and know-it-all Christiana hop on the first bus to the Faerie realm to show those fairies who’s boss. But these are not the sparkly Tinkerbell kind of fairies. These guys play dirty. Escaping fairyland with Danny’s mom is no easy task, even for a sort-of-fire-breathing dragon.

When Fairies Go Bad uses fairy folklore to create a hilarious, action-packed story that will have readers giggling. When Danny’s mother is kidnapped by fairies, Danny and his friends, Wendell and Christiana, are determined to save her. As they march through fairyland, they must stay on the path in order to stay safe. However, several of fairyland’s creatures try to trick the three friends into straying off the path. Fairyland’s creatures are more silly than scary, and readers will enjoy seeing how the friends work together to keep focused on their goals.

While in fairyland, Christiana is cursed and all of her sentences must end in a rhyme. To add to the humor, Christiana also doesn’t believe she is really in fairyland. At one point she says, “Yet more talking mammal dreams? My subconscious is obsessed, it seems.” Christiana’s rhymes add humor to the story. Readers will enjoy the humor of the story as well as how Danny and his friends are able to free Danny’s mother.

Green and black illustrations add to the allure of the book. Drawings with dialogue balloons help break up the text and keep the action moving. Dragonbreath shows the value of friendship and will get even the most reluctant readers engaged in the story. Although When Fairies Go Bad is the seventh book of the Dragonbreath series, the story can be enjoyed as a stand-alone story. Readers who enjoy the Dragonbreath series may also want to try The Notebook of Doom Series by Troy Cummings.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • Danny wakes up in the middle of the night because he hears a strange noise. “The music rose to a screaming whine, and something reached out of the fairy right, closed over Danny’s mother’s wrist, and yanked her into the right. She vanished. The music halted as if it had been cut with a knife.” Danny’s mother is kidnapped by fairies.
  • Danny finds his mom, who was locked in a cage by the fairies.
  • When Danny tries to talk to his mom, “the fairy king waved a hand. Danny’s mother’s voice cut off abruptly. Her mouth kept moving, but no sound came out. She realized she’d been muted. . .”
  • The fairy king threatens to turn Danny’s mom into a tree. Danny “had no idea what he’d do if the king actually did turn her into a tree. Take her home and plant her in a nice pot in the backyard? Keep her watered with coffee?”
  • Creatures follow Danny and his friends. “Figures staggered out of the woods, moving with jerky, shuddering steps. When they got a little closer, Danny realized that they were little more than sticks lashed together. They didn’t have heads or hands or anything, just twigs animated by some malign magic. . . Wooden claws closed on Danny’s shoulder. Another one grabbed at his mother. . .” Danny breathes fire and “the wood dried up beautifully. The twig-creature dropped him and staggered back.”
  • When the fairy king sends a guard after Danny and his friends, “Danny’s mother lunged at the fairy guard. The fairy plainly hadn’t been paying attention to her at all and went down under a hundred and sixty pounds of very angry female dragon.”
  • Danny threatens to turn a pig into bacon.

Drugs and Alcohol

  • Danny’s friend looks at some mushroom in Danny’s yard. The friend says the mushrooms “look like an Amanita to me. They’re really poisonous. Some of them make you hallucinate too.”

Language

  • Christiana has been cursed and must rhyme all of her words. She tells Danny, “Thanks, dude. . . I think I’m screwed.”
  • While in fairyland, Christiana thinks, “We got too close to the mushrooms in your yard, and now we’re hallucinating hard.”
  • Christiana shows a fairyland creature a spook and asks, “Is this what you’re after, you ugly moose-pafter?”
  • Danny’s mother tackles a guard. The guard then asks, “What the heck was that?”
  • Danny’s grandfather says that fairies are “mean little cusses.”

Supernatural

  • A fairy says a curse, “Ash and bone and hag-skin fat, boar’s black tongue and snout of bat, the rhymer’s curse I lay upon thee—from dawn to dusk in heart of faerie.” After Christiana is cursed, all of her sentences have to rhyme at the end. When Christiana says a word that can’t rhyme, she has “the mother of all coughing fits. She rolled around, tearing up handfuls of grass and hacking.”
  • While in the fairies’ world, Danny and his friends must stay on the path because “the white stones seemed to act like a force field.”
  • When bushes begin to talk to Danny and his friends, Wendell says, “Fairies can disguise themselves as all kinds of things. I bet those aren’t really bushes.”
  • In order to break a fox’s spell, Christiana puts in the tear of the fox. “The tear fell onto the spell. There was a shout that seemed to come from all directions of the woods, and the spell gave a great hiss and fizzle. The fox leaped to his feet, did a backflip, and tore off into the woods.

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

 

The Darkest Part of the Forest

Fairfold is just like any normal, small-town—except for the faeries. The people of Fairfold have always lived alongside the Faerie Folk and have grown accustomed to their way of life. They live alongside each other by appeasing the faeries. They thread flower garlands for the Alderking. They don’t go to the forest hills at night. They don’t even bat an eye when a tourist goes missing after a visit to the forest to try and catch a glimpse of the Folk.

Even among all this strangeness, the biggest mystery of all is the horned boy in the glass coffin. In the woods, for as long as anyone can remember, a glass box has sat on the forest floor with a sleeping boy inside. Tourists come from across the world to see the boy, but no one can explain his existence or his ageless body. Anyone that attempts to break open this glass coffin has been met with explainable injuries, so the boy has stayed in his resting place for centuries.

Hazel and her brother, Ben, have lived in Fairfold all their lives and have always been drawn to the Folk. As children, Hazel and Ben secretly would go to the forest at night to hunt the Folk. Ben used his unearthly gift of music to lure creatures to them, while Hazel used her strength and sword to cut down the Folk. A near-death experience caused them both to retire from hunting, but they always had an internal pull to the Folk and to the boy in the glass coffin. They grew up fantasizing about who the boy in the glass coffin truly was. They knew they would never get the real answer . . . until the day the boy woke up.

The Darkest Part of the Forest is an adventure through a mystical town that exists in the human world. Magic and humans coexist in Fairfold, and Hazel and Ben have always thrown themselves into the dangerous faerie world. When the mysterious boy in the glass coffin awakens, they are caught on a mission to help save the boy and get him back to his home.

Hazel wants to help the boy, but she also has a secret to keep. As a child, Hazel made a bargain with the Alderking and now owes him her services. She now must choose between helping the horned boy and fulfilling her bargain to the Alderking. As Hazel, Ben, and the horned boy become friends, mysteries unravel, friendships blossom and love awakens. Will Hazel choose to help the boy or fulfill her bargain? Will Hazel and Ben be able to save the horned boy? Will they survive the journey to bring the boy home?

Fans of Holly Black will not be disappointed with this gripping story of faeries and young love. The Darkest Part of the Forest takes the reader through a fantasy world filled with betrayal, trickery, and most of all, love. The Darkest Part of the Forest is well-written, but the story can be confusing because of the intricate world stuffed into one novel. This story features unique characters and different points of view, but the excessive background information slows the plot. Readers will enjoy the relatable characters in a mystical world filled with mystery, romance, fantasy, and a satisfying ending.

Sexual Content

  • Hazel is known for kissing many boys “for all kinds of reasons.”
  • Hazel regrets kissing Robbie Delmonico because “ever since they’d made out at a party, he’d follow her around as though he was heartbroken.”
  • Hazel also shares a kiss with her brother’s boyfriend. “His mouth was soft and warm, and while she didn’t kiss him back, she didn’t exactly squirm away.”
  • In order to trick Hazel into drinking the faerie wine, a faerie girl kisses her “full and deep with soft lips and a cool tongue.”
  • Hazel asks a boy to “distract her.” So, “leaning over, not speaking, he brought his mouth to hers. She rolled toward him, and his arm came around her, pressing her closer, his fingers against the small of her back.” She removes his shirt and they continue to kiss on the ground until interrupted. This scene lasts about one page.
  • The horned boy, Severin, kisses Ben. “It was a searching, hungry kiss. His hand wrapped around Ben’s head and Ben’s hands fisted in Severin’s hair, bushed over horn, rough and cold as the back of a seashell.”

Violence

  • Hazel talks about some of the tourists’ disappearances. “Some got dragged down into Wright Lake by the water hags. Some would be run down at twilight by horses with ringing bells tied to their manes and members of the Shining Folk on their backs. Some would be found strung upside down in trees, bled out and chewed upon.”
  • There’s violence in Hazel’s stories of them hunting faeries. “Ben lulled faeries with his music, while Hazel struck them down with her sword.”
  • A water hag kills Hazel and Ben’s dog by “slamming him on the ground as if he weighed nothing.” Hazel avenges her dog by killing the hag, doing so by “hefting a large sword like a baseball bat and brought it down, bashing the edge against the monster’s head. Her skull split like a rotten melon.”
  • Hazel goes hunting alone one night and finds her classmate, Natalie “hanging upside down with her throat cut.”

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • Hazel and Ben attend parties in the forest where people often “looked flush with alcohol and good cheer.”
  • At these parties, different characters, including Hazel and Ben, drink alcohol. For example, “Leonie Wallace lifting her beer high over her head” and “Stephen drank moonshine from a flask.” There are multiple parties described throughout the book in flashbacks, and the novel begins at a party that Hazel is attending.

Language

  • Profanity is used sparingly. Profanity includes: hell, shit, damn, asshole, and bastard.
  • A mother tells the faerie woman, “damn the consequences and damn you, too.” Then she tells the faerie to “get the hell out.”

Supernatural

  • Supernatural events are a huge part of the plot since the town of Fairfold coexists with faeries and deals with them every day.
  • There’s a glass coffin in the woods and “in it slept a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives.”
  • The town of Fairfold lives alongside the Folk. In the forest “it wasn’t odd to see a black hare swimming in the creek or spot a deer that became a sprinting girl in the blink of an eye.”
  • The townsfolk feared a creature in the forest that “lured tourists with a cry that sounded like a women weeping, with fingers of sticks and hair of moss.”
  • People can go to a tree in the forest to “bargain for your heart’s desire.” A local girl had gone to the tree “and wished herself into Princeton, promising to pay anything the faeries wanted. She’d gotten in, too, but her mother had a stroke and died the same day the letter came.”
  • Townfolk tell a story about Carter’s parents and how their child was taken and replaced with a changeling. Carter’s mother had “gathered the neighbor ladies” and “baked bread and chopped wood and filled an old earthenware bowl with salt.” Carter’s mother then heated a poker and pressed it against the changeling’s shoulder because “burning a changeling summons its mother.” The faerie mother arrived carrying a bundle and Carter’s mother confronts her. The faerie woman gives back Carter and “reached out her arms for her own wailing child, but Carter’s mother blocked the way.” Carter’s mother states as a punishment for taking her child, she would be keeping both boys to raise as her own.
  • When Ben was a baby, his mother took him into the forest for a picnic. His mother was painting the scenery when a faerie woman comes out of the forest and compliments the drawing. The faerie woman asked the mother to draw her a picture. When she was done, the faerie woman gifted her with a “boon.” The faerie touched Ben and said, “I can’t change his nature, but I can give him the gift of our music. He will play music so sweet that no one will be able to think of anything else when they hear it, music that contains the magic of faeries.” Ben uses his musical talent later to save Hazel and to lure faeries to them.
  • Hazel makes a bargain with the Folk to get her brother a full scholarship to a music school. In exchange, Hazel must serve the Alderking for ten years.
  • Something possesses a classmate’s body. “Hazel knew that she might be looking at Molly’s body, but Molly was no longer looking out through her eyes.”
  • At one point, Hazel is hiding in the bathroom and sees a monster that is “easily over seven feet in height and looked roughly human shaped, if a human could be made from branch and vine and soil.”
  • To get into the faerie’s realm, Hazel must “stomp three times,” make up a rhyme, and then step through a moss-covered archway.

Spiritual Content

  • None

by Adeline Garren

The False Fairy

In the eleventh fantastic adventure of The Kingdom of Wrenly series, a spell makes all but one fairy disappear. A mysterious spell has hypnotized the fairies on the island of Primlox, and now it is up to Prince Lucas and Clara to save the fairyland. Along with the last remaining fairy named Falsk, will the two friends find the missing fairies? Or is Falsk, who is famous for telling wild stories, leading Lucas and Clara into a trap?

The False Fairy uses adventure, friendship, and a little bit of magic to form an entertaining story that teaches a positive lesson. Like many people, Falsk likes to play jokes on others and tell stories. However, Falsk has told so many untrue stories and played so many pranks on others that no one trusts her anymore. When the fairies are in trouble, Falsk journeys to Wrenly to get help. Even though the Falsk is known as the False Fairy, the prince listens to her plight and helps her free her fairy friends.

The Kingdom of Wrenly series has a lot of positive aspects. Besides having a pet dragon, the prince is curious, helpful, and truly cares for other people. Even though he is royalty, the prince’s best friend Clara is the daughter of a baker. The adventurous friends work together to help Falsk find her friends. In the end, Falsk learns the danger of telling untrue stories and promises. “From now on, I will never play another trick. And I’ll be truthful, honorable, and kind.”

The story’s illustrations are beautifully drawn in black and white and appear on almost every page. The illustrations help readers visualize the characters and events in the story. Easy-to-read vocabulary, dialogue, and simple sentence structure make The False Fairy a perfect book for beginning readers. Although The False Fairy is the eleventh installment of a series, the previous books do not need to be read in order to enjoy the story.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol

  • The wizard Grom goes in search of items for his potions. He wants to make, “potions for bad-dragon-breath and stain removal, cough serums, and tracking spells.”
  • Grom’s tracking potion needs, “1 body part for creature to be tracked (hair, fingernail, scale, dander, or shell), 1 cup orange blossom honey, ½ turnip, 1 handful of gooseberries, 1 swoosh of snail slime.”
  • Grom mixes the tracking potion ingredients and then says, “Pursue-mora! Pursue-mora! Hot on the trail of an unknown beat. Track it down in a high-speed chase. Then make known it’s hidden face.” After the spell is cast, “sparkling light and glitter swirled from the locket. It ripped out of the cabin and up into the sea air.”
  • Grom cast a “strong protection spell on the children and Ruskin.”

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • When fairies hear a song, they go into a trance. When Rainbow Frost hears the son, “a dreamy expression fell over Rainbow Frost’s face. Her body began to float upward. Falsk watched in horror as Rainbow Frost and the fairies of Primlox seemed to be pulled away by a dark, misty cloud moving across the sky.”
  • When looking for the source of the song, Falsk finds out that “the strange song was coming from a dark, misty cloud moving across the sky.”
  • As the group follows the dark cloud, “they studied the sea and sky for more clues. Soon their imaginations began to play tricks on them. Each waved seemed to swell with monster faces, and the clouds took on beastly shapes.”

Spiritual Content

  • None

Kitty the Tiger Fairy

Rachel and Kirsty are spending a week of their summer vacation volunteering at the Wild Woods Nature Reserve. While the girls want to help others, Jack Frost is up to no good. He has stolen the Baby Animal Rescue Fairies’ magic key chains and is planning on kidnapping baby animals for his icy zoo.

The girls have to help the fairies keep the zoo animals safe. When Jack Frost’s goblins try to capture Sheba the tiger cub, Rachel and Kirsty have to keep the tiger cub safe. Can they keep Sheba safe or will the cute tiger cub end up in Jack Frost’s zoo?

The Baby Animal Rescue Fairies follows the same format as the Pet Fairies series. Both series combine fairies, animals, and Jack Frost’s goblins to create an entertaining story that younger readers will enjoy. While the goblins spend most of their time running away from the tiger cub, younger readers will enjoy guessing what the goblins will do next. The story highlights the importance of volunteering and taking care of the environment.

Rachel and Kirsty are likable characters who use their time to help others. The characters are not well developed and the plot structure is repetitive of the previous books. Despite the predictable plot, readers of The Baby Animal Rescue Fairies will enjoy seeing Rachel and Kirsty defeat Jack Frost’s goblins. Black-and-white illustrations help readers visualize the plot while illustrations of the animals’ lives add to the story’s cuteness.

This book has easy vocabulary and short sentences, which make it perfect for readers just transitioning to chapter books. Younger readers will be able to read The Baby Animal Rescue Fairies without assistance, and the stories will help them build confidence and a joy for reading. There are seven books in The Baby Animal Rescue Fairies series in addition to a Sports Fairies series, the Fairy Tale Fairies series, and Special Editions.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • Jack Frost uses a magic ice bolt to steal the Baby Animal Rescue Fairies’ charms—“the tiny furry animal key chains that helped them care for the wildlife. Jack Frost then gave the key chains to his goblins, and ordered them to hurry away to the human world and bring him some animals for his zoo.”
  • The fairies use their magic and “granted Rachel and Kirsty the power to talk to animals.”
  • A fairy shakes her wand, “conjuring up a cloud of glittering fairy dust. The girls were whisked gently away and, in the blink of an eye, Rachel and Kirsty found themselves thousands of miles from the nature reserve.”
  • With a flick of her wand, a fairy “scattered magic sparkles around the girls, turning them both into fairies.”
  • Rachel and Kirsty use fairy dust to go to the fairy world.
  • A fairy puts fairy dust on a log. “The log immediately rose up out of the water, floated through the air, and came to a rest on the bank of the stream.”

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

 

Bella the Bunny Fairy

Rachel and Kirsty hide Easter eggs for a neighbor’s party. When the party guests arrive and start looking for eggs, they keep seeing a bunny that changes colors. Rachel and Kristy think the bunny is one of the fairy’s pets. Jack Frost was upset that he didn’t have a pet, and he kidnapped several magical animals that belonged to the Pet Fairies. Can Rachel and Kirsty save the bunny from Jack Frost’s goblins?

Bella the Bunny Fairy combines fairies, animals, and a villain to create an easy-to-read story that will engage young readers. Although the stories are formulaic, younger readers will enjoy the cute fairies, and guessing what the goblins will do next. Rachel and Kirsty are good role models because they are kind to others, help their neighbors, and are able to save the day.

Bella the Bunny Fairy is perfect for readers who are just beginning to read chapter books. The story has easy vocabulary, short sentences, and cute black and white illustrations on every page. The story has a simple storyline with a non-frightening villain. There are seven books in the Pet Fairies series as well as a Sports Fairies series, the Fairy Tale Fairies series, and Special Editions. Although the stories have some of the same characters, the books do not have to be read in sequence. Bella the Bunny Fairy will delight younger readers, who will want to read every book in the series because the stories are so much fun.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • Goblins make a hole and cover it with leaves to trap Rachel and Kirsty. The girls fall into the trap.
  • The goblins fall into their own trap. “They fell on top of the twigs and leaves in a heap. A second later, the covering gave way. Yelping, the goblins all tumbled into the hole.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • The goblins argue and call each other names, including, “coward,” “scaredy-cat,” and “klutz.”

Supernatural

  • A fairy uses magic dust. “She lifted her wand, and a shower of golden sparkles floated down onto the girls. Rachel and Kirsty held their breath as they shrank to fairy size, and glittering wings appeared on their backs.”
  • A fairy uses her wand to send a message to a bunny. “Lifting her wand, she began to write in the air. Like a sparkler, the wand left a glittering trail of bright blue letters.”
  • A fairy wants to fix a box so a rabbit can’t escape. “Then Bella waved her wand. A cloud of dazzling sparkles swirled around the box, making it whole again.”

Spiritual Content

  • None

Katie the Kitten Fairy

The pet fairies and their special pets help all animals find safe homes. But Jack Frost has stolen the special pets, who were able to escape to the human world. When Rachel and Kirsty go to the park, they see a dog chasing a kitten. When they go to help the kitten, it changes into a tiger and then back into a kitten. Rachel and Kirsty know they must help the kitten get back to the fairy world, but Jack Frost’s goblins appear; they want the kitten for themselves. Can Rachel and Kirsty find the purr-fect solution to their problem?

Younger readers will enjoy Katie the Kitten Fairy because it combines fairies, animals, and goblins. The easy-to-read story has cute black-and-white illustrations on every page. The goblins add non-scary suspense, and readers will enjoy guessing what the goblins will do next. The story highlights the importance of being a good pet owner. For example, when James finds a kitten in the park, his dad won’t allow him to keep it until they call the animal shelter to make sure it doesn’t belong to someone else.

Katie the Kitten Fairy has likable characters who are kind to others. The story has easy vocabulary and short sentences, which make it perfect for readers transitioning to chapter books. Even though the story and characters are not well developed, younger readers will want to read every book in the series because the stories are so much fun. Younger readers will be able to read Katie the Kitten Fairy without assistance, and the stories will help them not only build confidence, but a joy for reading as well. There are seven books in the Pet Fairies series as well as the Sports Fairies series, the Fairy Tale Fairies series, and Special Editions.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • Goblins try to capture the kitten. “With angry cries, two of the goblins dropped their butterfly nets and dove toward the girls. They stretched their gnarled green hands out to grab the kitten.” Rachel and Kirsty use fairy dust to escape.
  • The fairy queen tells Rachel and Kirsty that Jack Frost stole the fairies’ pets and, “He took them to his ice castle, and then sent out a ransom note.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • A fairy’s kitten pet is in the human world. When a dog chases it, the kitten changes form. “A sudden flash of light flickered through the air. A cloud of amber-colored sparkles swirled around the kitten. Seconds later, the kitten had vanished—and an enormous striped tiger had appeared in its place!”
  • The kitten uses magic to knock a man’s plate on the ground. The kitten then eats the food.
  • The kitten uses magic, so Rachel and Kirsty can understand it. “Sparkles streamed out of its mouth and swirled around in the air! The kitten meowed again, but this time the girls could hear words in its meows.”
  • Rachel and Kirsty use fairy dust to go to the fairy world.

Spiritual Content

  • None

The Wrath of Mulgarath

In the fifth and final installment of the Spiderwick Chronicles, the Grace children must battle Mulgarath’s goblin army to save their mother and reclaim the Field Guide. With the help of Thimbletack, Hogsqueal, and Byron, the Grace children attempt to sneak up on Mulgarath’s goblin army. Can the small group defeat a fierce army of goblins and Mulgarath? Are the children doomed to lose everything they hold dear?

All of the characters and creatures come together in a satisfying conclusion. The griffin, Thimbletack, and Hogsqueal unite to help the Grace children rescue their mother and defeat Mulgarath. Book five of the series is darker and has some potentially disturbing descriptions. Although the final battle ends with a satisfying surprise, reading descriptions of Mulgarath’s evil deeds may disturb younger readers. In an attempt to trick the children, Mulgarath shapeshifts to appear like their father. Jared is able to see through Mulgarath’s trick and, in the end, saves his family from Mulgarath’s wrath.

Like the previous books, the Grace Children work together and come to one another’s aid when needed. When Jared’s mother finally learns the truth about Jared’s strange behavior, there is a heartwarming apology. The ending doesn’t ignore the natural consequences of Jared’s bad behavior but ends with the hopeful possibility that life will be better. In the end, Aunt Lucinda moves in with the Grace family and there is peace between the children, Thimbletack, and the family cat. When the exciting series comes to an end, the readers will be left with a smile and characters that they will remember for a long time to come.

 Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • Mulgarath kidnaps the Grace children’s mother. When the children find her, she is in “one corner, bound, gagged, and unconscious.”
  • Goblins attacked Thimbletack. The fight is not described, but Jared finds Thimbletack, who “had a long, raw scratch on his shoulder and that his hat was missing.” He also had a black eye.
  • A griffin grabs a hobgoblin by the arm. “The griffin shook his head, whipping Hogsqueal back and forth.” Simon hit the griffin, “Hard on the beak with his hand,” hoping to get the griffin to let go of Hogsqueal.”
  • Thimbletack threatens a hobgoblin saying, “No. We’ll set rats to nibble off your toes, poke out your eyes, and put them up your nose. Your fingers we’ll remove with dull scissors, and we’ll wait until your confidence withers.”
  • Goblins attack the Grace children. The battle is described over three pages. During the fight, two goblins, “Grabbed hold of his (Jared’s) legs and toppled him into the dirt.” Mallory uses her swords to chase them away. One goblin “Jumped on her back, biting her shoulder.” The griffin appears and the children are able to escape.
  • While Simon is riding the griffin, a dragon attacks. “The dragon twisted, teeth sinking into Byron’s feathered and furred body. . .” Simon falls off the griffin, injuring his arm. In order to distract the dragon, Simon, “who had never killed anything. . . stepped on the head of one of the baby dragons, crushing in into a smear under his shoe. It squealed. Dragon blood stained the ground and melted the edge of Simon’s heel.” The fight ends with Byron, “Plunging his beak into the creature’s neck, he rent it wide. The dragon went limp in Byron’s claws.” The action is described over seven pages.
  • Mulgarath put fairies in honey. Simon tries to help, “but the honey was heavy and clung to their thick wings, tearing them. The sprites squealed as he set each one down on the table in a sticky, sodden heap. One was completely still and lay there limply, like a doll.”
  • Mulgarath kicks Thimbletack. “The ogre kicked the brownie, his giant foot tossing Thimbletack across the room, where Thimbletack landed like a crumpled glove beside Mrs. Grace.”
  • The story ends with an epic battle between the Grace children and Mulgarath, which is told over several chapters. At one point, Jared stabs Mulgarath in the foot with a sword. The battle ends with a funny surprise.

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • When Simon hits the griffin, his sister yells, “Oh Crap, don’t do that!”
  • Hogsqueal calls the Grace names such as “beetle-guts”, “lump-meat,” and “chatter-basket.”
  • Jared says, “I want Dad to be less of a jerk . . .”
  • “Oh my god,” is used as an exclamation once.
  • Mallory calls Jared an “idiot.”

Supernatural

  • Goblins, Frey, griffins, and other creatures exist. These creatures have different magical abilities.
  • Mulgarath is raising dragons. The dragons have “hundreds of teeth, thin as needles.” When a person touches a dragon, their skin burns.”
  • Mulgarath is able to change shapes. In order to trick the children, he changes, making himself look like their father. “As Jared looked up into the familiar hazel eyes of his father, they started to turn pale yellow. His father’s body elongated, filling out, becoming a mammoth shape clad in the tattered remains of ancient finery. His hands became claws, and his dark hair twined together into branches.”
  • The children meet their great-great-uncle Arthur Spiderwick, who the elves kept captive. Arthur meets his aged daughter. When Arthur goes to hug his daughter, his “foot touched the ground, his body turned to dust and then smoke.”

Spiritual Content

  • None

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