A Grimm Warning: The Land of Stories, Book 3

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
A Grimm Warning: The Land of Stories, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Slapstick, sweetness, sorrow in epic fairy-tale-world saga.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 5 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Author Chris Colfer gallops headlong through and past several zillion subjects without pausing to give any of them deep consideration. From phrases in French and German to comments on Napoleonic wars and historic sites of England and Germany, as well as riffs on Lord of the Flies, his seemingly slapdash narrative may launch young readers into various studies on the side.

Positive Messages

Strong messages about family love and the strong bonds among family members; loyalty to friends and companions; courage, kindness, collaboration, and plenty of creative thinking. Helping others, even when they're not especially grateful. Inclusiveness, in private life and public affairs, and judging people as individuals instead of making assumptions because they belong to a group. Valuing everyone's particular talents.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Believably flawed but appealing 14-year-olds Alex and Conner are creative, brave, and selfless as they protect loved ones and community. Though Alex, as the future Fairy Godmother, is conscientious to a fault, Conner's problem-solving skills are often risky and involve breaking rules, kidnapping an old lady, and more, all to save the Land of Stories. Supporting characters reveal the right skills in the nick of time, even if they've spent much of the tale being annoying.

Violence

As in previous installments, good characters face constant danger -- to themselves and their worlds -- from evil ones. A beloved character dies; other characters are shot, kidnapped, imprisoned, incinerated, or devoured by a dragon. Battles with artillery and hand-to-hand combat (but not much gore) take place on- and offstage. Much of the violence is cartoonish but often dark: "The remains of the wooden soldiers were piled in the center of the prison. Many pieces, such as the legs and hands, still twitched. The general poured lamp oil over the pile of the fallen and lit it on fire so the prisoners above could watch the guards who had held them captive burn."

Sex

Both Alex and Conner, now 14, deal with their first crushes, but the romances don't go beyond a few brief kisses. A married character becomes pregnant, and an ill-fated past romance resulted in a child who's been spirited away. Unwanted marriage looms as a hazard for several characters, while others enjoy domestic bliss.

Language

Several uses of "screw" as a verb, both as "screwing things up" and "Screw the code!" (referring to the fairies' Code of Magic). Low-key innuendo and double entendre that kids may miss.

Consumerism

Frequent mentions of real-life tourist attractions as part of scene setting; references to events in previous volumes, as well as literary works including Lord of the Flies and the tales of the Brothers Grimm.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The Mother Goose character is constantly drinking and often drunk; a number of her past adventures involve drinking buddies and seedy bars.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Grimm Warning, the latest installment in the Land of Stories series, delivers still more of author Chris Colfer's frenetic but deft mash-up of unexpected elements. Here the now 14-year-old protagonists reunite and bring a few friends on their quest to save the fairy-tale world from a new peril: one of Napoleon's nastier generals, who's brought his Grande Armée along to conquer the place. Hair-raising adventures and questionable decisions abound (a lie here, a kidnapping there). Characters face many dangers, and some, including beloved ones, die from guns, swords, fire, and dragon attacks. Amid the excitement, teen heroes deal with their first crushes and first, brief kisses; there are occasional bits of crude wordplay ("kick your ashes") and jarring language, such as, "Screw the code!"

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byHyoh M. July 11, 2017
Kid, 11 years old March 27, 2016

Great GRAND AMAZING

This book is amazing. Beautiful story and plot, Chris Colfer really blends all fairytales together. My only complaint was that I want crazy waiting for a year f... Continue reading
Written byAnonymous September 6, 2015

Lives up to the Standards of its Predecessors

(Note: I may be getting too old for this series now) I've noticed a pattern in this series: the first half drags on a lot, but the second half does the o... Continue reading

What's the story?

After the events of Book 2, Conner Bailey, now 14, is settling into "normal" life with his mom and stepdad, trying to adjust to the fact that his twin sister Alex is forever separated from them: She's living in the Land of Stories, preparing to fill her grandmother's role of Fairy Godmother. But, thanks to fateful events 200 years in the past involving the Brothers Grimm, Mother Goose, and one of Napoleon's nastier generals, Conner gets A GRIMM WARNING that the Land of Stories is once again in dire peril. Soon he, the classmate he has a mad crush on, and a 10-year-old German boy rush to the rescue. Once again, laughs, wisecracks, clichés, shout-outs to literary and pop culture characters, dark violence, noble speeches, and sad losses ensue.

Is it any good?

Chris Colfer has the plot-device generator set on stun, racing at warp speed through Europe and fairy kingdoms while bombarding readers with wisecracks, pop culture, teen angst, and tender moments. You (and the characters) never get a chance to savor the moment or go, "Wait, what?" as the narrative juggernaut lurches along with lots of twists, terror, and life lessons. But as Colfer brings the fantasy adventure to the edge of yet another cliff at story's end, there's plenty to be resolved in Book 4.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how storytellers revisit well-known tales to make a new point. What point do you think the narrator is making in his version of the "Hansel and Gretel" story? How does this version differ from other versions you've heard? Why do you think that might be?

  • What did you learn about London, Berlin, and other real-life European destinations that turn up in the story? Does A Grimm Warning make you want to check out these places if you haven't already?

  • A Grimm Warning mentions many intriguing subjects in passing and pretty much leaves it to you to find out more. Do you find this cool or annoying?

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