Septimus Heap Series

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Septimus Heap Series Book Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Charming series for kids not ready for big, dark fantasies.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 40 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value
Positive Messages

Family is very important in this story; the Heaps stick together and are especially appropriate when Jenna finds out she is adopted. In the second book Septimus faces his fear of heights head-on. The third has teamwork and friendship at the forefront as kids risk getting stuck 500 years in the past to save their friends.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The heroes are more than noble -- they're compassionate. Marcia and Aunt Zelda are both great models for the kids in their care, using magic for good and encouraging learning. Septimus faces his fears and works hard to be a good apprentice and a good brother, even to a brother who doesn't accept him. As the books progress, Septimus is shown greatly enjoying his studies.


Fantasy violence that's not well-described or pervasive. Mentions of an assassin killing a queen and almost killing her infant daughter. Main characters flee a persistent but buffoonish hunter who tracks the 10-year-old princess with a gun. A friendly marsh creature is shot and recovers. Another boy almost dies when an evil necromancer "borrows" his skin. Boy 412 looks back on his tough orphan life in the youth army, where cruelty included making kids go into the woods and fend off hungry wolverines. Sad mentions of a baby thought dead by its family right after his birth. A bar is deliberately set on fire; no one is injured. Boys are attacked by wolverines but are saved in time. A boy's hands are badly burned. The Necromancer DomDaniel appears as a skeleton. A menacing shadow follows the ExtraOrdinary wizard. A girl is kidnapped but escapes. The third has many mentions of an evil queen who has gotten rid of her offspring so she can stay queen forever -- Jenna can hear their ghosts crying in the walls of the castle.


One of the Heap children tries to get married secretly. The third book mentions a sweet romance between the ghost Alther and a live woman, plus a mild romance between teens.


Nicko Heap, "remembering all the bad language he picked up at the Port," insults a tree that has captured him, but no mention of what the bad language is.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some drinking in a tavern. Sally Mullins works up the courage to face the hunter by drinking some beer. In the third book, a teen girl asks for a strong alcoholic drink in a bar, hates it, and is given a milder drink instead.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that among current fantasy novels, this is among the least dark or violent, and almost uniquely in this genre, fighting and killing are not portrayed as the answer to anything and are assiduously avoided, villains are seen as redeemable, and heroes are both stronger and more compassionate than their enemies. This series' gentleness makes it especially recommended for those not quite ready for the big, dark fantasies.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 8-year-old Written byLisaST.28 November 28, 2018

Great Family Fun!

Seven books is quite a commitment;yet, it was loved by my 8 year old daughter. An introduction into multiple characters who were family, or friends, wizardi... Continue reading
Parent of a 4 and 8-year-old Written bysjjess June 26, 2015

A Rich World and Fun Adventures

This series is marvelous! Other than Book 5, which was a bit slower than the rest (although my son loved it), my husband and I enjoyed them all. Familiar them... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bySidra Amabel Ke... April 6, 2021

A must read

This is a great book, especially to those not accustomed to violence. It is a must read for all kids.
Kid, 11 years old January 17, 2020
This book would be great for kids who like Harry Potter but are looking for something new to read, it is quite wonderful. I've only read the first two and... Continue reading

What's the story?

Just after the apparent death of the sprawling, wizardly Heap family's newborn seventh son, they are given a baby girl, Jenna, to care for. Ten years later they are forced to flee their home in the Castle when it turns out the girl is the daughter of the murdered queen, and the Supreme Custodian, who has taken over the city, sends an assassin to complete his destruction of the royal family. Pursued by a professional Hunter, and accompanied by the ExtraOrdinary Wizard, a ghost, and a young soldier known only as Boy 412, they head into the Marram Marshes to find refuge with their Aunt Zelda, the White Witch. But the Necromancer, DomDaniel, who is in league with the Supreme Custodian, is determined to see them all destroyed.

Is it any good?

This author may have slept through the classes in Story Construction and Character Development, but she was the star pupil in Blithe Spirit. With a light touch and gentle humor, she carries readers through this overlong first novel, with some explosions of imagination along the way. A wealth of fascinating magical creatures and an intriguing new design for magic make this a delightful, at times exciting, read.

Septimus, now apprentice to the ExtraOrdinary Wizard, seems to be the only one alarmed with his brother Simon, doing the bidding of Necromancer DomDaniel, rides off with Princess Jenna. He knows she's been kidnapped and goes after her. This installment is just as fun as the first with the same light touch and unique approach to magic. It's nice to see Septimus fleshing out as a character, learning magic, and facing his fears.

 Septimus is kidnapped through a magic glass and taken back 500 years to be the apprentice of alchemist Marcellus Pye. Meanwhile Pye's mother, Queen Etheldredda, haunts the present and attempts to reclaim the crown from Jenna. There are plenty of what-ifs with the time travel theme, but the story bogs down in its length and some of the heart is missing in this installment. Queen Ehteldredda is a fun villain, however.

Thanks to a cruel ghost, Septimus is set up for a quest that no other apprentice has returned from -- but not if he escapes the Questing Guards first. He, Jenn, and his friend Beetle would rather rescue Nikko and Snorri, stranded in the distant past in book 3. It takes almost 300 pages for the trio to hit the road and this book is poorer for it. The focus should have been on their journey, not a slew of minor characters.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the author's aversion to violence. How does the author make the story so exciting without battles and fighting?

  • How is the approach to fantasy and the good/evil struggle different from other books?

  • Do you think would make it a good movie? Who do you envision playing Jenna? Boy 412?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy

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