A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Fantasy, meant to entertain.
Strong messages of inclusion, friendship, compassion, courage, and thinking outside the box to help your loved ones.
Positive Role Models
Not everyone is what they seem, as various characters learn to their cost. But Brystal (even when she's delusional) never veers from trying to do the right thing, whatever the situation. Having picked up the mantra and the mantle of Compassion, she holds up well under a barrage of neediness from just about everybody. Lucy, the future Mother Goose, retains her talent for trouble (and also for figuring out when it's lurking), which puts her on the outs with Brystal and sends her to a witch academy. As usual, her version of world-saving is often highly unusual, but often works (when it isn't causing disaster). The various young members of the Fairy Council are kind, supportive, talented, and good at teamwork. Once again Colfer bashes true-believer characters who preach religion and want to stamp out magic, and as usual they are over-the-top cartoons. Young witches are into gambling, and have a betting pool on practically everything.
Violence & Scariness
An entire royal family is murdered. A wedding is bombarded with ancient magical weapons. A character is killed and returns from the dead; an entire subplot involves the troubled relationship between Death and his daughter, who wants to go on living. Curses and other witchcraft cause havoc. A villain raises an army of dead soldiers. Aspiring witches learn that every spell they cast alters their physical appearance in some way, usually grotesque.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some attraction between Brystal and a prince.
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A character exclaims, "Piss off!" Occasional butt references, and some humor around Dam Day, a village's celebation of the structure that keeps it dry. A bit of bathroom and fart humor, especially as a character is partially transformed into a skunk, and another turns people's beer into dog pee. Insults are frequent and lively.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Brystal's older brother has become a pathetic drunk in the wake of Book 1's events.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.