A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Of Sorcery and Snow is the third book in Shelby Bach's Ever Afters series. The fantasy violence in the book is rooted in dark fairy tales, including the "Pied Piper of Hamelin" story, as 1,001 children are spirited away from Portland and given up for lost by the teachers of Rory's magical school. Rory and her companions are in constant peril, from wolves, dwarves, Arctic cold, and the malevolent Snow Queen. Battle scenes are violent and intense, and Rory reluctantly makes her first kill. A key character is slain. Romance is in the air, too -- young characters are beginning to pair up as couples.
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What's the story?
Rory Landon, 13, has completed two quests with fellow Characters training at Ever After School, yet she still doesn't know what her own Tale might be. But she has bigger problems to deal with: First, she and her friends are attacked by magical wolves in Golden Gate Park, and then she learns the Pied Piper has kidnapped 1,001 children from Portland and taken them to the Snow Queen, who has escaped her enchanted prison. When the tale is deemed too dangerous to pursue, she and her friends Lena and Chase join Miriam, whose brother was kidnapped, to take on the Snow Queen alone. As danger mounts, Rory realizes she'll need to spill her secrets to her family if she's to keep them safe -- but first she needs to survive this Arctic quest.
Is it any good?
Though this isn't one of the strongest books in the genre, it's fun to read and full of admirable, likable characters. OF SORCERY AND SNOW follows the formula of the preceding books in the Ever Afters series -- and in the hidden-magic-world genre. Many of the plot developments will feel familiar: The heroes are now on their own, without the guidance of their mentors, and Rory is increasingly concerned about the strange connection between herself and the Snow Queen (à la Harry Potter and Voldemort). The writing, intended to sound like an authentic teen voice, too often falls flat.
Rory and her friends are an inspiring group, capitalizing on one another's strengths and helping one another summon the courage to carry on. There's plenty of battle action and forward momentum to keep readers engaged.
Talk to your kids about ...
Which of the Characters at Ever After School would you choose to help you on a dangerous quest?
Would the drama of the ambitious Snow Queen be as interesting if it all took place in a magical world -- if Rory weren't trying to live two different lives?
- Author: Shelby Bach
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Book Characters, Fairy Tales, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: July 23, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 336
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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