Blythewood: The Blythewood Tales, Book 1

Book review by
Julie A. Carlson, Common Sense Media
Blythewood: The Blythewood Tales, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Girl fights mythical beings in thrilling school fantasy.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

The importance of education is a strong theme in Blythewood. Readers get a sense of early 20th-century dress, manners, politics, and historical events (for example, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911 and the women's suffrage movement in the United States). They'll also learn about New York state, especially the Hudson Valley area and the village of Rhinebeck, as well as interesting details about falconry.

Positive Messages

Strong positive messages about the value of friendship, love of family and friends, honesty, and sticking to your beliefs. Also lessons about kindness and open-mindedness, treating people well, and accepting people for who they are.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Avaline is brave, fearless, cunning, wise, strong in her beliefs, and a great friend. Her strong bond with her beloved mother drives her to seek the truth behind her mom's suicide. Ava's sidekicks include Helen, an apparently spoiled, superficial rich girl who proves a caring, loving friend; shy Daisy, who cares for the defenseless and sticks up for her friends; and Nathan, smart and full of himself but willing to put himself in harm's way for the people he loves. Many teachers and other adult characters are solid role models. The clever, charming mystery boy who saves Ava shows courage.


The story's violence involves the killing of mythological beings. There are a few battle scenes with weapons.


Mild flirting and a kiss.


Some characters say "hell's bells."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Blythewood, the first book in the planned trilogy The Blythewood Tales, is bestselling adult novelist Carol Goodman's young-adult debut. Set in 1911 New York, it features a teen heroine, Avaline Hall, who, following her mother's suicide, works as a seamstress at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. She escapes the deadly fire there only to find herself in a mental hospital, then lands in a mysterious boarding school where she learns to fight mythological creatures. There's a bit of romance but little violence, and the strongest language is "hell's bells."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byDr.Pepper121201 July 27, 2014

It's on the top of my favorite books list!!!!!!!

It was the best books I have ever read!! I really like Historical fiction, Fantasy, and Adventure this book has it all!!!! there is romance in this book, not a... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bygnewman April 7, 2017

One of my favorites

This starts seeming like historical fiction with the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire but then quickly turns into fantasy. With revelations of identity at a Har... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byDr.pep1212 July 27, 2014

Can't stop talking about it!!!!!!!!!

This book is the best book in the library! I like historical fiction, Adventure, and Fantasy, Carol Goodman has put all them together, every page just makes you... Continue reading

What's the story?

Tormented by her mother's suicide -- and sudden appearances by a strange, smoke-breathing man -- Avaline Hall works quietly as a seamstress at the ill-fated Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in 1911 New York. Spirited away from the deadly fire there by a mysterious boy, she finds herself in a mental hospital, where a benefactor discovers her and sends her to BLYTHEWOOD, the academy that expelled her mother long ago. Once there, she struggles to win acceptance from her fellow students as she tries to figure out the mystery behind her mother's death and find her elusive rescuer. Also, she keeps seeing a winged boy and wonders if this means she's really insane.

Is it any good?

New York Times-bestselling author Carol Goodman's first venture into young adult fiction is an atmospheric novel that's sure to please fans of Harry Potter and Downton Abbey. Both heroic and down-to-earth, its characters are compelling, and there's a lot of heart mixed in with the magic, mythical beings and monsters. Blythewood is long, but its characters, suspense, and romance keep the pages turning and leave readers eager for Book 2.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why stories that mix magic with historical fiction are so popular. What other examples can you think of? Do they make you want to learn more about the period in which they're set?

  • What was life like at the time when Blythewood takes place? How was Ava's childhood different from that of her classmates? How and why were they different?

  • How does the author gradually reveal Blythewood's history and what's really going on there?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love Fantasy and historical fiction

Themes & Topics

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