A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Nethergrim is a conventional fantasy quest novel for younger readers: solidly constructed and featuring appealing characters and an exciting climax but not particularly innovative. The level of violence is fairly low, mostly limited to swordplay against monstrous evil minions. A scene in which a young boy is whipped might bother sensitive readers, as might the deaths of some young children at the hands of the titular supernatural entity. No sexual content other than an unrequited crush. There's some drinking by adults in the tavern run by the parents of teen protagonist Edmund, who serves ale but doesn't drink it. This is the first book in a planned trilogy.
What's the story?
Edmund dreams of leaving his parents' tavern and seeking adventure outside the town of Moorvale. But when local livestock starts to go missing, he begins to worry that something evil has been awakened. The Nethergrim was supposedly killed decades ago, but only three survivors lived to tell the tale. Now the mysterious creature and its minions seem to be back to their evil ways. When Edmund's younger brother is kidnapped, Katherine and Tom set out to rescue him and the other missing children.
Is it any good?
THE NETHERGRIM is something of a standard-issue fantasy novel -- pleasant enough but not offering much in the way of innovation or originality. The main characters -- Edmund, Katherine, and Tom -- have a little depth to them, but the setting is the kind of medieval town that's been explored many times over.
Young readers who have not encountered many examples of the form will probably enjoy The Nethergrim for its straight-ahead plot, appealing characters, and exciting climactic showdown. More sophisticated readers may not feel compelled to await the sequel in this planned trilogy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why the fantasy quest adventure remains such a popular narrative form. What aspects of the form seem relevant to everyday life?
Why do some teens feel the urge to leave their hometowns as soon as possible? Are there advantages to staying with what is familiar? Or is it better to seek new experiences?
What does it feel like to have an unrequited crush on someone? What are good ways to deal with those feelings?
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