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 Whispering Trees, the second installment in the Thickety series, is often violent, dark, and scary, putting its 12-year-old protagonist and her young brother in constant danger, as well as sometimes in no-win ethical situations. It begins with a violent death of a beloved companion and includes a lot of harrowing, scary scenes, from a fence that proves to be made of the reanimated bodies of deceased villagers to the killing of a being who springs to life as a sort of zombie clone of a child. Vividly described battles with monsters and evil magicians injure and kill many friendly beings. There are strong messages of family, friendship, and loyalty, coupled with a complete inability to trust anyone except your sibling. Wicked characters may achieve some redemption, while seemingly kind ones may not be what they seem.
What's the story?
At the end of Book 1, 12-year-old Kara and her younger brother, Taff, flee the villagers bent on killing them and run to the only place their pursuers won't follow: the Thickety, a dark, creepy, magic-infused place ruled by the Forest Demon, Sordyr, who seems to have a strange interest in them. As they try to get through THE WHISPERING TREES, escape their island, and reach the outside world, they fall into traps and must often battle evil forces in violent clashes. Adding to the danger: Their new traveling companion is a notorious witch who's killed many children and may or may not have changed her ways.
Is it any good?
Fans of The Thickety: A Path Begins will be happy to pick up the continuing adventures of Kara and Taff as they struggle to save themselves and do no harm in a magic-infused world. Vivid descriptions of spooky creatures, violent battles, and undead skeletal beings abound -- and some of them are former friends.
Set almost exclusively in the magical forest the kids are trapped in, the story is often oddly static. Having seen the harm that comes of magic in the first installment, Kara engages in endless ethical hand-wringing that's almost always a prelude to doing what she finds unacceptable and discovering how it's for the "greater good." As in this case: "And yet Kara couldn't stop thinking about all the creatures that might die in the process of carrying out her plan. Does it matter? Aren't human lives more important than the lives of animals? I must save Taff and Mary first if I have the power to do so!" Some readers will find this compelling; for others, it may get really old.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about magic and why stories about it are so popular. Why do you think it's often seen as an evil force? Do you agree?
Have you ever been in a situation where all the choices were bad? How did you deal with it?
Creepy stories have been around as long as humans have. Why do you think people find them so irresistible?
- Author: J.A. White
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
- Publication date: March 10, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 18
- Number of pages: 528
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: January 31, 2020
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