The Last Spell: The Thickety, Book 4

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
The Last Spell: The Thickety, Book 4 Book Poster Image
Thrilling conclusion to teen witch saga ends in epic battle.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Aside from adding words like "grimoire" to the reader's vocabulary, the story doesn't have much educational content. Learning is valued, and a famed academy for witches plays a role in the plot and character development.

Positive Messages

Strong messages of friendship, courage, loyalty, family, and kindness. In a dark world, "if you're going to err, err on the side of compassion," says Kara. But Lucas counters, "I believe that's true. For the most part. But you can't save everyone, Kara .... Because not everyone wants to be saved."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Kara, her younger brother, Taff, and her friend Lucas all show courage, determination, creative thinking, and a lot of self-sacrifice as they move toward the cosmic battle that will either save or doom their world. Other young characters are more complex, including secret allies who've infiltrated the evil witch's court. Another teen character is torn between the lure of magic's power and pure terror at the punishment that awaits her if she casts any more spells. Adults aren't always what they seem, but there are plenty of good guys doing their part at the right moment.

Violence

As elsewhere in the series, there's gore, battle, massacres, and violent death aplenty, and  physical and mental abuse of characters by villains magical and otherwise. Also creepy graveyards and corpses. A character signs his life away to monsters in order to help Kara's cause. A number of characters, including well-loved ones, don't make it out alive.

Sex

Thirteen-year-old Kara and love interest Lucas, about the same age, finally kiss on a few occasions, but the cosmic battle is front and center. Younger brother Taff has a growing romantic interest in his friend Safi.

Language
Consumerism

Some references to events in earlier books, but mainly to bring new readers up to speed.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Evil magic continues to have an addictive, drug-like effect on those who put themselves in its power.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that like previous three Thickety books, thrilling series finale The Last Spell has lots of gory battles, monsters, terrifying situations, dark magic, murder, mayhem, betrayal, and many other mortal dangers -- and a 13-year-old heroine doing her best to face them all as she tries to save her world. As in the previous books, there are strong positive messages, especially about forgiveness, kindness, and empathy, as well as loyalty and friendship. Author J.A. White ties up all the plot threads in a satisfying resolution, though more than one well-loved character perishes along the way, and others pay a terrible price for what they achieve.

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What's the story?

The cosmic conflict between Rygoth the evil witch and 13-year-old Kara leads to an unavoidable battle for world domination that won't end till THE LAST SPELL is cast. Along the way, Kara must pay a terrible price -- every spell she casts requires her to give up another memory, until there's less and less of her left. Friends and loved ones come to assist; so do a few characters whose intentions and loyalties are questionable at best. Beloved characters suffer terrible fates -- will their sacrifices, Kara's kindness, and the kids' problem-solving skills carry the day?

Is it any good?

J.A. White brings his teen-witch saga to a thrilling conclusion as young protagonist Kara and her allies face off against the forces of darkness in an epic battle. Not everyone survives these harrowing adventures, others are permanently damaged along the way, and it's not at all clear whether the good guys will prevail, however unthinkable the alternative. Before The Last Spell is cast, there are puzzles to be solved, wrongs to be righted, and magical creatures conjured out of mere wisps of thought. Monsters and gory death abound, but so do intriguing characters with strong spirits, kind hearts, and relatable issues.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Parents can talk about good vs. evil cosmic battles in The Last Spell. It's a popular theme, but different storytellers have very different versions. How is Kara's story like, say, Harry Potter's, and how is it different?

  • Some people think magic is evil. Some think it's a force for good. What do you think, and what stories make you think that way?

  • Would you be willing to give up your favorite memories? What might be worth such a price?

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