A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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."
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
- Author: Carol Goodman
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Fairy Tales, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, History, Holidays, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Science and Nature, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Viking Juvenile
- Publication date: October 8, 2013
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 18
- Number of pages: 496
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
Our editors recommend
For kids who love Fantasy and historical fiction
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.