A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Explores Scottish legends and myths, including Cailleach and a god of ruin. The author researched medieval Scotland and details the landscape of real ancient places, architecture, and culture, even though the book is a fantasy.
Includes positive themes about innovation, transformation, family communication, and acceptance. Also the importance of confronting fears, claiming and using your gifts, and having a partner who loves, respects, and treasures you as you are.
Positive Role Models
Merida is courageous, driven, competitive, and strong-willed. She's also loyal and protective of her family and kingdom. Elinor and Fergus love their children fiercely and want to do what's best for their kingdom. Feradach is an agent of destructive change and seems indifferent and competitive, but he's also secretly kind, thoughtful, and helpful. The triplets all have more positive character traits than it initially seems.
Merida is part of a noble/royal family but goes against gender roles for women, nobles, and princesses. Merida and her mother, Elinor, are different examples of women leaders -- demonstrating physical strength, courage, diplomacy, and education.
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Violence & Scariness
Hunting is mentioned. Catastrophic flood. A god causes destruction that wipes out "stagnant" towns/communities and plans to eradicate the main character and her kingdom -- not out of desire to kill but out of necessity to keep balance in the world. An armed leader makes demands, threatens to kill people and families to make examples of them. He orders the burning destruction of villages that don't follow him. More than one character nearly dies but is saved. References to past destruction of a lot of people, but more near-deaths than actual deaths on the page.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A married couple embrace. A young woman speaks of love and marriage. Two characters share a climactic kiss.
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"Bloody," mild insults.
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Products & Purchases
Bravely, in which Merida is 20, is based on the 2012 Disney movie Brave, in which Merida is 16.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults occasionally drink at dinners and gatherings.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Bravely is a YA book sequel to the 2012 movie Brave, following a life-or-death adventure Merida has a few years after the events of the Disney film. (She's 20 now. She was 16 in the animated film.) Written by best-selling author Maggie Stiefvater, the book continues the story and explores how the princess must save her family and kingdom from destruction by the god of ruin. There's a simmering love story featuring banter, deep conversation, and one big kiss, but this isn't a book steeped in romance. It does, however, contain scenes of fire, flooding, catastrophes, and eradication. A warmonger threatens to kill not just a kingdom's ruler but his entire family and civilians. In fighting sequences, characters wield weapons such as bow and arrow, axes, daggers, and swords.
Is It Any Good?
With its themes of Celtic folklore and mythology, supernatural bargains, transformative adventures, and complementary love interests, it's no wonder this Disney sequel is by Maggie Stiefvater. At first it was odd to see her name on a Disney tie-in book, but once readers dig into Bravely, it makes perfect sense why the critically acclaimed bestselling author took the assignment. She's already steeped in medieval lore (read pretty much any of her books, but in particular The Raven Cycle and The Scorpio Races), and all of her books include complicated family dynamics, stubborn and strong-willed young women, intense, broody, and god-like (in this case an actual god) young men (in this case a god who appears as different genders and ages to whomever he encounters). The vivid descriptions of medieval landscapes, architecture, and cultural norms are thorough and well-researched. More important, the character development and growth (built in to the premise) is lovingly depicted. That doesn't mean all the characters are always likable. Merida can be overly obstinate and even arrogant, Feradach infuriatingly quiet and seemingly indifferent, and the triplets, well, they're tween boys. Merida is also courageous and loving and fiercely protective of her family; Feradach cares more deeply than he should; and the triplets can also be mature, perceptive, and kind.
Leezie is a wonderful addition to the DunBroch clan. Although not a blood relation, she is Merida's sister. Always sweet and optimistic, she brings a joyful and generous heart to the family. She's also the comic relief in the serious proceedings of Merida and Feradach's yearlong bargain. Queen Elinor contains more layers than the movie uncovered. Of the three adventures, hers is a favorite, not only because it once again centers the mother-daughter relationship but also because it reinforces the idea that all sorts of women and girls -- not just the ones who wield bows and arrows and eschew romance -- can be empowered and empowering. Older Merida, like her film-based younger version, isn't interested in marriage, but that doesn't mean she doesn't feel attraction or love. While this book can't be categorized as a romance by the genre's standards, it does feature a memorable story about equals, partners, and friends who slowly fall in love in their own way.
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