Foxheart

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
Foxheart Book Poster Image
Girl and dog pal face riveting, intense fight to save magic.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Foxheart is a work of fantasy fiction about its own world, not ours. It's also written and crafted so well as to serve as a shining example of what language and storytelling can be.

Positive Messages

Strong messages about courage, sacrifice, responsibility, and perseverance. Also the importance of pooling your strengths and working together. Much of the story involves budding friendships among characters who are deeply suspicious of connecting with others, in which misunderstandings, betrayals, and just plain not doing the right thing are common; along the way there's a lot of forgiveness and fence-mending.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Twelve-year-old orphan Quicksilver's ambition to be the best thief in the Star Lands may not be every parent's dream, but she's very relatable and hard to resist as she grapples with the choice of going her own way or forming connections with others and working together. The bond between her and Fox (a dog for the ages) is life-changing and ultimately world-saving, and the friendships they form along the way are essential. Friends often fail each other, but also often realize their mistake and try to make things right.

Violence

Much of the plot involves violent clashes of both magic and brute force, including events set in motion when a magical boy kills his abusive family. Three beloved characters (as well as numerous incidental ones) die, devastating other characters and the reader as well. Injuries are described powerfully but without gratuitous gore.

Sex

Quicksilver realizes two characters are in love, and then, in the future, meets one of their descendants.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Foxheart, by  Claire Legrand, is a deeply satisfying stunner of a tale that requires some emotional maturity from the reader. Characters steal your heart and then die, with a sudden, devastating wallop to those who love them, which by that time definitely includes you. The plot involves a heroine who aspires to be the best thief in her world, as well as parents who abandon their children, a magical boy who murders his family, and friends who fall short and/or betray each other at the worst possible moment.  There are a lot of positive messages about courage, friendship, forgiveness, sacrifice, and the value of working together -- and Legrand is the all too rare author who lets her protagonist and her reader figure them out for themselves.

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What's the story?

As FOXHEART opens, in the world of the Star Lands (which among other things has two moons, one of them purple), the fearsome Wolf King has all but stamped out magic and is worshipped by the people. HIs followers include the nuns at the orphanage where a 3-year-old girl is left one day by her parents and spends the next few years refusing to reveal her name, getting bullied by mean girls for her odd appearance, and generally bedeviling the nuns. By the time she turns 12, she's chosen the name Quicksilver and shown enough skill at stealing that she plans to become the greatest thief in the Star Lands -- aided by the scruffy dog Fox, her boon companion and partner in crime. But after a murderous attack on the orphanage by the Wolf King himself and the sudden appearance of a strange old lady and her dog, Quicksilver and Fox must travel back in time to stop the Wolf King's devastation before it starts and keep the Star Lands safe for magic.

Is it any good?

Claire Legrand's tour de force delivers a magical misfit heroine and a heart-stealing dog in a riveting cosmic conflict, with much devastating loss and joyous triumph along the way. Foxheart brings a lot of positive messages as its imaginative plot unfurls, and raises a lot of relatable themes, from fledgling friendship gone wrong to abandonment issues. Legrand packs rich characterization, world-building, and exploration into her imaginative, fast-moving story. Many readers will want to bring along a box of tissues for the journey.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the magical setting of Foxheart. What's the appeal of stories that take place in imaginary worlds? What can you do in a story set in another world that you can't do in a story set in this one?

  • What other stories do you know about human-dog teams? How do Quicksilver and Fox compare to them?

  • How do you think our world would be different if it had two moons?

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