A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
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.
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
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.
Violence & Scariness
The story's violence involves the killing of mythological beings. There are a few battle scenes with weapons.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Mild flirting and a kiss.
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Some characters say "hell's bells."
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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."
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.
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.