Of Sorcery and Snow: The Ever Afters, Book 3

 
(i)

 

Magical, real worlds collide in action-packed sequel.

What parents need to know

Educational value

The Ever Afters series is keyed to classic fairy tales. Readers may get a better understanding of fantasy archetypes.

 

Positive messages

Concern for the greater good drives Rory and her friends to defy their mentors and try to rescue the kidnapped children. Many characters who at first seem unpleasant or unlikable turn out to have strong positive attributes, proving the point that people aren't always what they seem. Loyalty, teamwork, and perseverance are celebrated throughout the story. 

 

Positive role models

Rory feels guilty for deceiving her family and making them worry, and she wants to be able to tell them the truth. She loathes the idea of killing her enemies. A classmate and a faculty member help the children sneak out of school to try to rescue the missing children. A dwarf princess makes a great sacrifice in hopes of improving her people's circumstances. Rory's parents are loving and patient when Rory has difficult news to share.

 

Violence & scariness

Young characters are in constant peril, and one dies. Fierce wolves pursue Rory and her traveling companions. The Snow Queen kidnaps 1,001 children. Rory's family is endangered. One of the wolves had been Jack the Ripper in human life. 

 

Language

Mildly coarse language includes "crap" and "sucks."

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.

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Though this isn't one of the strongest books in the genre, it's fun to read and full of admirable, likable characters. 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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of stories that imagine magical worlds entwined with the real world -- as in the Harry Potter and the Percy Jackson series. What makes this genre so enduring?

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  • 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?

Book details

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
Number of pages:336
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Available on:Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of Of Sorcery and Snow: The Ever Afters, Book 3 was written by

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