A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Much of The Nethergrim is concentrated on a search for an evil, presumably supernatural, entity. However, the background action depicts the reality of running a tavern, training horses, and surviving in the woods.
Within its fantasy quest structure, The Nethergrim emphasizes the importance of bravery, personal responsibility, and loyalty to family and friends.
Positive Role Models
Village teens Edmund, Katherine, and Tom each possesses admirable qualities that allow him or her to prevail in the face of evil. Edmund is bookish and thoughtful (even though he steals a book from a visiting stranger). Katherine is brave and a formidable fighter. Although younger, Tom is agile and loyal to a fault. By working together, these young people save many of their friends and fellow townspeople.
Violence & Scariness
For a fantasy quest novel, The Nethergrim is not particularly violent. There's swordplay, but the descriptions of it are fairly tame. Some young children are killed by the Nethergrim and his minions, but the details are downplayed. In a scene that might bother younger and more sensitive readers, Tom is whipped by his cruel master. Edmund's father is stabbed in the stomach, but he survives.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Edmund has a crush on Katherine, but she considers him only a friend. He makes various attempts to flirt with her or impress her, but she displays no romantic interest in him.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Edmund's family runs a tavern, and the boy serves ale to the various customers. None of the underage characters drinks alcohol.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.