Curses! Foiled Again

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Curses! Foiled Again Book Poster Image
Teen girl defends Faerie in lively graphic novel sequel.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Curses! Foiled Again features characters from Celtic and other folklore traditions, including the witch Baba Yaga and members of the Unseelie Court. It also introduces readers to the vocabulary and tactics of the sport of fencing.

Positive Messages

Throughout Curses! Foiled Again, Aliera learns that outward appearances are often deceiving, that pretty exteriors can hide evil hearts and that ugly individuals can prove loyal and trustworthy.

Positive Role Models & Representations

In Curses! Foiled Again, Aliera Carstairs is a smart, skilled, and resourceful protagonist, a little prickly but generally good-hearted. She finds troll-boy Avery Castle exceedingly annoying, but he proves himself worthy of greater consideration as the plot unfolds. Aliera's parents are presented as caring and responsible, yet not at all clued in to their daughter's double life as a Defender of Faerie.

Violence

Humans, trolls, and members of Faerie engage in a number of fights, most of which involve swordplay. The violence in Curses! Foiled Again is generally cartoonish, and no human is fatally wounded. (A troll or two is stabbed and then vanishes without a trace of blood.) Aliera's aunt is attacked offstage, and there's a scene of her recuperating in the hospital.

Sex

Aliera considers Avery Castle good-looking, except when he's in troll form. There's a mild attraction between the two, though it's well covered by their continuing annoyance with each other.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Curses! Foiled Again continues the adventures of Aliera Carstairs, Defender of the Seelie Court, begun in Foiled. Celtic and other folklore is used as a springboard for a charming contemporary fantasy that features magic and swordplay. The violence is generally cartoonish, with no human fatalities. The language is unlikely to offend anyone, and there's only the vaguest hint of romance between any of the teen characters.

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What's the story?

Recently appointed as the Defender of Faerie, high school fencing whiz Aliera Carstairs must learn to walk the border between the magical and the mundane. She is hampered by the presence of Avery Castle, an annoying troll-boy who has sworn allegiance to her. When Aliera's aunt is attacked and her wheelchair-using cousin, Caroline, disappears, Aliera must journey back to Faerie to rescue her.

Is it any good?

This is an engaging new volume in the fantasy graphic novel series begun with Foiled. Aliera Carstairs is a well-designed protagonist: capable yet not overconfident, caring but with an edge. Her adventures in contemporary suburbia and Faerie are both exciting and well observed. Mike Cavallaro's artwork is expressive and clear in its storytelling, with a nice use of color to distinguish the magical aspects of the tale. Although Curses! feels much like a middle volume in a series, it has sufficient plot development and reversals to satisfy return readers and new ones alike.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Why do stories from world folklore still retain their power in modern times?

  • What does it feel like to know that someone is more interested in you than you are in him or her? 

  • What does is take to excel at a sport like fencing?

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