A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The book itself doesn't provide much historical context, but it may lead readers to investigate the Spanish Civil War, an oft-forgotten front of the war against fascism in Europe.
Courage and self-sacrifice provide hope in times of cruelty and despair.
Positive Role Models
The young protagonist, Ofelia, and the resistance fighters battling the fascists display tremendous bravery and resilience, despite battling terrible odds. Captain Vidal, on the other hand, is purely evil and sadistic.
Violence & Scariness
It's set in a war zone; predictably, lots of death, murder, torture, though book doesn't go into too much gory detail. Still, main characters meet gruesome ends, several firefights leave dozens dead, and a wounded soldier gets his infected leg sawed off.
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A couple of instances of cursing, including "son of a bitch" and "a--holes."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Soldiers drink brandy and smoke cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Pan's Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun, is a faithful adaptation written by children's fantasy author Cornelia Funke of Guillermo del Toro's classic film of the same name. The movie is often described as a work of magical realism, and the book as well is a dark, scary, and violent fairy tale set in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). It includes scenes of murder, firefights, and torture, though the book doesn't go into too much gory detail. Still, some main characters meet gruesome ends, several firefights leave dozens dead, and a wounded soldier gets his infected leg sawed off. Despite the bleak storyline and terrifying monsters -- both mythical and human -- this is a story of resilience and self-sacrifice in the face of cruelty and hopelessness. There are a couple of instances of cursing, including "son of a bitch" and "a--holes."
Is It Any Good?
Thrilling, enchanting, and heartbreaking, this well-achieved adaptation of a sensational film is an absolute page-turner. Cornelia Funke's writing is powerful and effective, preserving the mystery and wizardry of the original, while del Toro's handpicked illustrator, Allen Williams, adds striking visuals to accompany the text. As with any adaptation -- especially of such a stunning and imaginative film -- it's difficult to capture all of the creativity of the source material, but Funke does a nice job of re-creating the film almost shot-for-shot. And the new fairy tales are excellent additions that enrich the overall story and add something for fans of the movie who might wonder why they would want to read the book version. These allegorical vignettes not only give the reader a deeper understanding of del Toro's magical universe but also provide welcome relief from the unrelenting darkness of Ofelia's tragic struggle. By the end of the book, it's hard to know what was real and what was fantasy, but perhaps the lesson is that true magic is conjured out of courage, selflessness, and hope even in the face of insurmountable odds and unimaginable evil.
While Pan's Labyrinth is certainly darker and less fun than Harry Potter or even A Series of Unfortunate Events, fans of those series who don't mind a bit of tragedy and history mixed in with their magic will find plenty to love in this reworking of a modern classic.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.