Of Enemies and Endings: The Ever Afters, Book 4

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
Of Enemies and Endings: The Ever Afters, Book 4 Book Poster Image
Strong finish for modern, fast-paced fairy tale-fantasy.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Key plot elements reinterpreted from classic fairy tales.

Positive Messages

Crises have a way of bringing families together, and support from family and friends make the most arduous tasks more manageable. People have hidden layers that can surprise you. Deep hurts can be transformed into strengths. Children may have even more responsibility than adults to make the world a better place.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Teamwork is a key theme: One person's absence makes everyone else's work harder, and opponents' inability to work as a team is a weakness. Rory and her friends are steadfast and resolved to fighting for something bigger than themselves. Her family, often a cause of friction and irritation, comes through in a big way.

Violence & Scariness

Near-constant peril and frequent battle scenes with magical and fantastical creatures; children and families are targeted by the Snow Queen's forces. Several prominent characters die in violent circumstances. Child loses limbs and nearly dies.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Of Enemies and Endings is a satisfying conclusion to Shelby Bach's Ever Afters series, packed with nearly nonstop action and several intense battle scenes. There's a lot of backstory to follow: Newcomers to the series should start at the beginning. Both young and adult characters die, including some who sacrifice themselves to save others. Several young characters willingly take on very heavy burdens, and a few have their first kiss.

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What's the story?

Rory Landon is dreading her 14th birthday, which is fated to usher in her final confrontation with the Snow Queen -- an encounter Rory may not survive. As the Snow Queen steps up her attacks on the students of Ever After School, families are fleeing to the magical campus. Rory and her fellow warriors are worn out and worried. Making things worse, Chase has become flaky and unreliable just when Rory needs him most. He's so engrossed in a romantic relationship that he's letting down his friends. Rory wants his support as she prepares for her final battle, but instead she finds herself clashing with him as well.

Is it any good?

The action-packed finale to Shelby Bach's four-part Ever Afters series is the strongest in the fun fairy tale series, rich with emotional complexity and maturing relationships. The young teens in OF ENEMIES AND ENDINGS are grappling with the pull of first romances and changing relations with parents and mentors -- all while trying to save the world from a despotic sorceress. A puzzle drives the plot this time: Rory has an idea of what it will be like to face the Snow Queen, but she needs to figure out how to defeat her overwhelming power.

Rory's relationships with her parents and teachers deepen considerably. She gains new insight about facets she's resented in the past, and her mother, particularly, sees her warrior daughter in a new light. Lots of action, a hefty dose of magic, and a splash of romance make this a winner for fans of the series.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of updated, reinterpreted fairy tales for an older audience (such as the Grimm tales, Once Upon a Time on TV, and movies such as Maleficent and Into the Woods). Why are these stories such enduring springboards for new stories?

  • Do you think the violence in this book is appropriate, too intense, or pretty tame? Parents might want to talk with kids about violence in media.

  • How does this compare with other series you've enjoyed? Would it have been better as a trilogy or stretched out longer like the Harry Potter series?

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