A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The creative interpretation of fairy tales that began in The Wishing Spell continues enthusiastically, and kids will have fun comparing these versions with the originals. Several characters, notably Alex and Froggy, are very fond of books and learning, and some of their favorites, e.g. The Complete Works of Shakespeare and the adventure tales of Jules Verne, turn up in creative, often comical ways.
Strong messages regarding the bonds of family and friendship, the many benefits of teamwork, and why forgiveness is better than revenge.
Positive Role Models
Conner, Alex, and their friends and family members often show courage, determination, and creativity in coming to the aid of those who need it, whether they're saving the world or dealing with relationship issues. Over the course of the story, several characters learn a lot about themselves and how to deal with their responsibilities.
Violence & Scariness
There's not much gore, but there's both emotional and physical violence galore: the Evil Enchantress kidnaps and imprisons the twins' mother and a baby, among her other victims; she also destroys the only thing a character loves, just for the fun of destroying it. Many people and other beings are killed in vain attempts to withstand her, though the carnage takes place offscreen. The Enchantress also keeps in tiny jars the souls of various people who've crossed her. More comically, the swashbuckling Goldilocks urges Alex to bring a sword to school to deal with the mean girls.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Troll queen Trollbella returns, just as determined to marry Conner as she was in the first volume of the series, The Wishing Spell.
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Occasional "damn," "crap," and mild bathroom humor, e.g. a puppy pees on a character. Also some superficially innocent phrases that will go right by little kids and startle adults, such as, "he could see the vines dragging the screaming queens ..."
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Products & Purchases
There's no commercialism in the book itself, but author Colfer's status as a Glee star doesn't hurt its visibility.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The character Mother Goose is a drinker and takes frequent nips from her pocket flask. She also gets drunk with soldiers guarding the house and sings mildly suggestive, if nursery-rhyme-related, songs with them, e.g. "I haven't had this much fun since I ... used to rub-a-dub-dub with the three men in a tub!"
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Enchantress Returns is the second installment in Glee star Chris Colfer's Land of Stories series; the first book, The Wishing Spell, hit No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list. Colfer's many subplots gallop along at a breakneck pace, mixing swordplay, high tragedy, low comedy, poignant partings, and tender reunions in a creative tale with positive values and great heart. Colfer's narrative voice is often like that of a precocious, snarky middle-schooler, blending slang, pretentious words, and occasional innuendo with gusto. Some heavy issues, including the death of parents and other losses, mix with wisecracks and fantasy.
Is It Any Good?
Author Chris Colfer's narrative balance of wisdom and wisecracks frequently strikes an odd note in THE ENCHANTRESS RETURNS, but many kids will find that part of the charm. His breezy, engaging style sometimes doesn't quite work with the emotional and ethical issues that drive many characters; squabbling queen-zillas, beloved people dying or in mortal danger, happy reunions and dramatic reversals follow one another with video-game-like pacing and keep the pages turning, though sometimes at the expense of character development beyond the cartoon stage.
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Our Editors Recommend
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