The Nethergrim

 
Kids fight evil creature in standard medieval fantasy.

What parents need to know

Educational value

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.

Positive messages

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

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.

Sex

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.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
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.

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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?

Book details

Author:Matthew Jobin
Genre:Fantasy
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and underdogs, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Philomel
Publication date:April 6, 2014
Publisher's recommended age(s):10 - 17
Available on:Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of The Nethergrim was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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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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