A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Chris Colfer's A Tale of Witchcraft is the second volume in his A Tale of Magic series, which in turn is the origin story for The Land of Stories series and its many spin-offs. Compared with many of his other works, there's relatively little religion-bashing (although the villainous secret society seeking to stamp out magic and tolerance are cartoonishly religious, in the male-dominated and human-supremacist variety of religion), and less bawdy humor than usual. Character motivations are dashed off in hurried, platitudinous, italics-packed soliloquies. Basically, it's the minimal amount of narrative glue required to connect one outrageously imaginative scene after another, culminating in an epic battle and setting up the next installment. Violence includes an entire royal family murdered, a wedding bombarded with ancient magical weapons. There are corpses galore, a tale of Death and his daughter, a character who returns from the dead, and an army of undead soldiers. Also, as the title suggests, witchcraft. One character is a drunk.
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What's the story?
As A TALE OF WITCHCRAFT opens, Brystal Evergreen, age 15, is settling into her newfound role as Fairy Godmother and protector of magical beings, supported by her friends on the Fairy Council. Since she's set out to be the most compassionate being ever, Brystal's starting to get a bit worn down with the steady barrage of mundane neediness in the various kingdoms, but freedom and tolerance prevail, all is peaceful... But no. Called from the sleep of centuries, the Righteous Brotherhood (which liked the way things were before Brystal came along, i.e. male-dominated, repressive, and authoritarian) rises from centuries of sleep determined to get rid of Brystal and magical folk in general. And, testing the bounds of tolerance, a witch arrives on the doorstep inviting the fairy kids to come check out the witchcraft academy. Also, a shadowy would-be king seems to be plotting the death of the throne's current occupant. It all leads to a series of unfortunate events, culminating in a huge quarrel between Brystal and Lucy (the future Mother) Goose, followed by Lucy heading to the witchcraft academy. With, of course, the best intentions.
Is it any good?
Chris Colfer spins yet another wild tale of magical beings, free spirits, repressive patriarchies, old-school villains, witches, and also Death. Yes, it's all part of the continuing saga of Brystal Evergreen, Fairy Godmother, Compassion Personified, and matriarch of the world of his proliferating series. And it becomes A Tale of Witchcraft when the mysterious Mistress Mara shows up to recruit would-be witches. What could possibly go wrong -- even before Lucy Goose gets involved? Lots of bad guys are out to get Brystal and her fairy friends. Fortunately, they have a deep bond, plenty of courage, and an infinite supply of improving speeches.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how A Tale of Witchcraft takes well-known traditional characters and turns them into something else entirely. Do you like Chris Colfer's versions of fairy tale characters, or do you prefer the originals? Or do you like both?
How does the version of witchcraft that appears in A Tale of Witchcraft compare with how it's portrayed in other stories you know?
How can you tell whether someone is taking charge because they're a hero in a crisis or if they just like bossing other people around?
- Author: Chris Colfer
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Book Characters, Fairy Tales, Friendship
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: September 29, 2020
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 448
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: October 8, 2020
Our editors recommend
For kids who love fantasy and humor
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