Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Foiled Book Poster Image
Girl fencer fights monsters in clever fantasy graphic novel.

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Kids say

age 12+
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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Foiled provides basic information and vocabulary about the sport of fencing. It also draws heavily upon characters and concepts from Celtic folklore.

Positive Messages

The characters in Foiled! are very focused on perseverance and loyalty. Aliera takes her fencing practice very seriously and is also devoted to her aunt and sister. Even her antagonist, the annoying Avery Castle, operates under a strict sense of loyalty.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Aliera Carstairs, the protagonist of Foiled, feels like an outsider at her high school but is a whiz with a fencing foil. She is an interesting mix of bravado and insecurity. Once she is thrust into the confusing world of magic, however, she proves to be especially brave and resourceful, ready to take on the responsibilities given to her.


There are a number of sword fights, but they are bloodless.


At the beginning of the book, Aliera has a crush on her lab partner, Avery Castle, but that attraction diminishes as she learns more about him.


There's some light swearing in Foiled -- a few instances each of "hell," "damn," and "bastard" -- that occurs mostly in fight scenes.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

In one scene, two of Aliera's biology classmates state that they "need a drink" and "need a joint."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Foiled features a strong female protagonist who is a competitive fencer in this first volume of a series. There's fantasy swordplay with no bloodshed. Some strong language ("hell," "damn," "bastard") is spoken in fight scenes and in times of great stress.

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Teen, 13 years old Written byKathrine S. September 26, 2016

What's the story?

Aliera Carstairs loves fencing with her teammates and fantasy role-playing games with her cousin. She also has a crush on her biology lab partner, Avery Castle. When Avery invites Aliera on her first date, the worlds of fencing and fantasy collide, with Aliera suddenly able to see the denizens of Faerie and use her magical foil to fight off the monsters who come after her.

Is it any good?

FOILED has a sharp young protagonist with an interesting (and still somewhat mysterious) backstory. Author Jane Yolen and artist Mike Cavallaro capture both Aliera's social awkwardness and expert athleticism. The shifts between fantasy and reality are handled with wit and energy. Unfortunately, this first volume is a lot of setup without much payoff yet. Nevertheless, Foiled is an engaging opener and promises more enjoyable complications to come in subsequent volumes, including the next one, Curses! Foiled Again.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether female athletes given the same level of respect as their male counterparts. Are some sports regarded as "girly" and others as more masculine?

  • What's fun about reading graphic novels? How are the illustrations in panel sequences effective in moving the story forward?

  •  Why is the "secret hero" such a powerful trope, both in folklore and in popular culture?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sports and fantasy

Themes & Topics

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