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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Shadowfell is the first book in a trilogy by bestselling historical-fantasy author Juliet Marillier. In a generally Celtic medieval kingdom called Alban, 15-year-old Neryn has been in mortal danger her whole life because of her "canny" abilities, which let her see and converse with fairies. And when her addled father gambles her away in a game of chance, she fears the man whose hands she's fallen into. As her adventures unfold and she starts to realize her magical powers, she encounters -- and sometimes participates in -- violent combat, which becomes the subject of much moral reflection. The king's Enforcers set fire to buildings with people inside and have the power to destroy the minds of those who oppose them. Conflict between Enforcers and resistance forces results in much death. But Neryn learns compelling lessons about friendship, forgiveness, and loyalty, and has just one kiss by book's end.
What's the story?
Fifteen-year-old Neryn, who can see and converse with the \"Good Folk\" -- fairy beings who share the land of Alban with humans -- has already lost most of her family to the evil king's forces as he wages war against anyone with magical powers. When Neryn's father, addled by drink and trouble, gambles her away in a game of chance, she expects only the worst from the dark, mysterious man who carries her off -- and who proves surprisingly protective and willing to help her get to the mysterious land of Shadowfell. As she journeys toward her goal, with and without her enigmatic guardian Flint, Neryn encounters many characters, human and not, who present her with many tests to reveal her destiny -- and her role in Alban's future.
Is it any good?
Juliet Marillier is an accomplished writer of fantasy page-turners with a huge worldwide following, and it shows in the skilled storytelling and world-building in SHADOWFELL. Neryn's introspection and cosmic journeys toward her destiny may not be to the taste of more action-oriented readers. But the story offers interesting, complex characters confronting challenges from the mundane to the horrific and sets the stage for further developments in the trilogy's next installment.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why books about humans interacting with the fairy world are so popular. How is the view of that world different in Shadowfell from how it's portrayed in other books you've read or movies you've seen?
Do you agree with the way Neryn and Flint handle the issue of doing something harmful for a good cause? Would you do something different?
If your country suddenly fell into the hands of an evil ruler, do you think you could do anything to change things, or would you just try to survive?
- Author: Juliet Marillier
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Knopf
- Publication date: September 11, 2012
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 416
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.