Parents' Guide to

Paola Santiago and the Sanctuary of Shadows: Paola Santiago, Book 3

By Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

Fantasy series finale ramps up fear and intensity.

A young girl holds a magical staff beneath a dark, looming tower.

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This intense fantasy series finale keeps the chills and thrills coming with a strong, resourceful Latina as the main character. It stands on its own pretty well, but reading the books in order will bring a deeper understanding of the characters and the impact of the events in Paola Santiago and the Sanctuary of Shadows. Paola's now 13 and going into eighth grade. Big kids and tweens will relate to her frustration at being held back, and her desire to prove she can handle things on her own. But the story ultimately encourages seeking help and emphasizing the strength of community.

The action, spooky atmospheres, and spine-tingling fantasy-folklore creatures are all back in full force, along with many familiar characters from the first books. There's also a good amount of humor to lighten things up now and then. Characters talk about important issues like privilege, power, and choosing to do good, providing food for thought without getting in the way of the story. Characters and events come full circle in a slightly bittersweet but ultimately satisfying ending.

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