Hugely inventive story of kids in peril in fairy-tale world.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Storybound is a fantasy novel, so it's more about the story than the educational value. But within that context, readers will be kept busy trying to solve many mysteries and figure out what seemingly random myths and tales have to do with what seems to be growing danger. Also, readers will be invited to imagine a world in which there are no books and no new stories and consider what life might be like there.

Positive messages

Perseverance, courage, and doing the right thing in the face of great pressure are all strong messages in Storybound. Another lesson that Una and her friends learn along the way is that things -- and people -- aren't always what they seem and that it's best to pay attention and not base your actions on hasty judgments.

Positive role models

Una, Peter, Sam, and Indy are smart and courageous in dealing with great dangers. Many adults, especially Peter's parents and later some of the magical beings, are inspiring and brave as the battles they're fighting become evident. Some characters who initially appear threatening reveal unexpected depths and benign qualities as things progress.

Violence & scariness

While there's no significant gore in Storybound, there's an ongoing sense of great danger. Beneath the happy fairy-tale surface of the land of Story lurk hidden forces who apparently want to kill protagonist Una. Some scenes of combat involve spells, weaponry, dragon-slaying, and hand-to-hand fighting. In one such scene, an important character appears to be killed. Some characters are abducted. Mentions of great numbers of people having been slaughtered in the past.

Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Storybound is an ambitious fantasy novel that features an appealing heroine and her friends who face many perils, a strong good-vs.-evil theme, plenty of characters who show unexpected qualities as the plot unfolds, and a complex, magical world whose mythology is gradually revealed. There's an ongoing sense of danger and some scenes of combat, which involve spells, weaponry, dragon slaying, and hand-to-hand fighting but no significant gore. In one such scene, an important character is apparently killed. A cliffhanger ending leaves many issues to be resolved in the sequel.

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What's the story?

Twelve-year-old Una Fairchild, who's spent her life bounced from one bleak foster home to another, goes to her school library as usual one day and finds things strangely different. She's suddenly transported to an adventure-in-progress, in which Lord Peter, a young hero on horseback, is traveling with a snowy-robed, whiny maiden, whom he's soon compelled to defend against a fearsome dragon. This is Una's introduction to the land of Story, where everyone's career is to be a character in a long-defined tale -- a Hero, a Lady, a Sidekick, a Villain, etc. Her abrupt arrival has disrupted an examination in progress; before long, she's at school with Peter, Snow (the maiden), Sam the talking cat, Horace the bully, and other students and discovering that the school, the teachers, and the land of Story itself offer unexpected wonders, mortal dangers, and disturbing hints about Una's own origins.

Is it any good?


As with many first-volume fantasy novels, there's a lot of background information for young readers to absorb in STORYBOUND. At times they may find themselves as bewildered as young Una, dropped all unknowing in a strange land.

But Una and her friends are strong, appealing characters, and Una's arrival is a catalyst that drives them to discover unsuspected sinister forces behind the social conventions they've always taken for granted. Suspense is high as they proceed along the path of discovery, acquiring knowledge and courage in the process, and there's plenty to intrigue readers and provoke further thought.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what it would be like to live in a world where your only option was to play a role in the same, much-repeated story in which all the parts were defined and you were judged solely on how well you conformed to your role's definition.

  • How do the different characters' family lives -- Peter's loving parents, Una's lifetime in the foster system, Snow's peculiar relationship with her mother -- affect the way they view the world and how they behave?

  • Peter is shocked when Una tells him that in her world nobody is all good or all bad, because in Story it's supposed to be much simpler. What characters do you think might be both good and bad in Story, or seem to be one and turn out to be the other?

Book details

Author:Marissa Burt
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Fairy tales, Great girl role models
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:April 3, 2012
Number of pages:416
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Read aloud:8 - 12
Read alone:8 - 12

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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