FICTION

A Tale of Magic..

Little, Brown. (A Tale of Magic: Bk. 1). Oct. 2019. 496p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316523479.
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Gr 5-7–In the oppressive Southern Kingdom, magic is outlawed and women have only one option: become wives and mothers. But 14-year-old Brystal Evergreen thinks big: she sneaks books, she listens to the men’s discussions, and she dreams of escaping. When she gets caught with a magical book, Brystal fears her life is over—until a surprise visitor whisks her away to an academy of magic. While there, Brystal discovers a sinister plot brewing in the Northern Kingdom, fueled by the terrifying Snow Queen. As the situation worsens, the academy students realize that stopping the Snow Queen may be up to them. This is an exciting, seamless reintroduction to the fairy-tale world Colfer introduced in his first series, “The Land of Stories,” but prior knowledge isn’t a requirement. This fresh, original page-turner perfectly integrates the story of the Snow Queen. Colfer draws parallels between the narrative and the current political climate, which will feel less heavy-handed to younger readers and spark discussion about empathy and open-mindedness. The occasional scene or phrase may make this book more appropriate for slightly older readers than the audience of “The Land of Stories,” but it will still fit into an elementary collection. Some stilted dialogue and one-dimensional characters detract at times, but the plot is engaging enough that most readers won’t mind.
VERDICT A dynamic, engrossing fantasy that will have readers staying up late and dreaming big.

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