A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Some information about Irish mythology, ballet, and Irish dancing.
Strong (if comical) messages of family, friendship, courage, empathy (even with unusual magical beings), perserverance in the face of many obstacles, teamwork, and kindness. One of the secret martial-arts moves of Ronan's team is called Hey Hey We're The Monkees -- i.e., nobody's the star, everybody gets a turn, just like the '60s TV group.
Positive Role Models
Our 15-year-old geeky hero Ronan has come a long way in the previous installments -- he's still uber-anxious, emotionally confused, and physically unimpressive, but as events have shown, he does not lack friends or inner resources, both of which have a way of saving the day as he pursues his quest to exonerate (and find) his parents and rescue poor Pierre, left in dire straits in a previous episode. All the characters -- heroes and villains, magical and human -- are comically over-the-top and tend to be a bit one-note, but then often display some new and surprising quality, for good or ill.
Some comic gender-bending as Ronan spends most of the story disguised as a schoolgirl with a pink wig, and his idolized captain Siobhan de Valera is sort of iin drag-- swashbuckling with an edgy haircut and a fake handlebar mustache.
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Violence & Scariness
Most of the violence is comical and cartoonish, but there's a lot of weapon-slinging, shillelagh-bashing, and magical spells with dire effects, from extreme shrinking to even more extreme transformations, including death. An undead Irish god -- and Ronan stabbing him with an umbrella in the previous book -- is important to the plot. One magical character has an ongoing plan to devour her chief rival, and the occasional character perishes in the various battles, including a leprechaun who gets eaten. Also kidnapping, imprisonment, and all around bad treatment from villains.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Ronan can't decide whether or not he's in love with his boss. He kisses a magical character, more out of kindness and pity than from attraction.
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Butts, farts, and assorted disgusting bodily fluids (human, animal, magical...) mentioned. Brief references to the leprechauns' fondness, much described in previous books, for eating hot pickles that produce farts strong enough to propel the farter to the ceiling.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
As with the the previous books, much of the narrative and many of the leprechaun characters are pretty much soaked in whiskey, which is just part of the landscape, and there's plenty of other booze flowing as well among the wee folk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ronan Boyle Into the Strangeplace is the third book in Irish American actor/author Thomas Lennon's wacky series dealing with the adventures of an unlikely 15-year-old recruit to a secret branch of the Irish Gardai (police). The branch that deals, not always successfully, with the wicked doings of the wee folk who can't resist leaving the magical realm of Tir Na Nog and wreaking havoc in the human world. Geeky, confused, but resolved, our hero, fresh from the triumphs and disasters of Book 2, embarks on another quest involving whiskey, butts, farts, and disgusting bodily fluids from humans and magical beings alike. There are nonstop elements of slapstick humor. ("Seamus was twerking so fast that his bottom became almost invisible to the naked eye. He was twerking like a hummingbird -- a hummingbird of hell. And to make things worse, his buns were on a collision course for the MacDougals, who were old and sightless and never hurt a thing.") Also an undead Irish god. Ronan's determined to clear his parents (currently disappeared) of a crime they didn't commit, and bring the villain who's framing them to justice. All of which involves a trip to the magical realm, encounters with comical but often murderous beings, and very little going according to plan. Once again, it's a wild ride. Once again, it's good to remember that however out of your depth you may be in the moment, friendship, loyalty, and those weird bits of knowledge you forgot you had will serve you well.
Is It Any Good?
Thomas Lennon’s geeky, confused, but dauntless teen hero faces further difficulties amid magical villains, ill-behaved fairy folk, and a whole lot of booze and bodily fluids in this wild quest. As his latest set of orders from the Gardai send Ronan Boyle Into the Strangeplace as part of a delegation to the fairy world of Tir Na Nog, there's no telling what will happen, except that it probably won't be what you expect, starting about from the point where our heroes get from Point A to Point B by being eaten by a whale and ejected through her blowhole. Before Ronan gets to the next way station on his multi-book quest, many things even stranger than this will occur, as the reader will soon discover.
"Above my head, a flock of flying musical notes was zooming around: quarter notes, whole notes, treble clefs, and the like. They were attacking each other like pterodactyls, and their screeches seemed to be reflected in the length of their shape (the screeches from the whole notes were the longest).
"Nearby was something I had never wanted to see -- a group of purple cacti doing a staged reading of a conversation I had with Captain Fearnley back in Galway one year ago.
"'Idris Elba, Idris Elba,' said a tree that was well cast as my mentor to a narrow tree with glasses that was obviously supposed to be me."
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.