BOOK REVIEW | The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi [Bks 1-2] (4.5 stars)

Book 1: The Field Guide (5 stars)

book1coverVerdict: Sharp, simple and very engaging. 

I’m a bit late to the Spiderwick party, but I’m very glad I joined.

The Grace children- identical twins Jared and Simon, plus older sister Mallory – move into their crazy great-aunt’s old house. Jared in particular hates it, especially the squirrel he thinks lives in the wall. Very quickly we discover, however, that the noises at night are not being made by a squirrel…

The characters themselves are as engaging as the plot, although in the way of young children’s books, they are quite basic to begin with. Jared is an inadvertent trouble maker (and sometimes not so inadvertent) who tries hard but can’t seem to get into his family’s good books. Simon is the animal-loving sweetheart and Mallory the tough, talented older sister with  what seems like anger management issues. I’d gladly read more about them all any day of the week.

The Field Guide is a fast-paced introduction in the world of Spiderwick, and every moment holds your attention. Well-written and simply spun, it’s a short novel that all fans of fantasy will enjoy, regardless of their age. It is written for a younger audience (5-8) and, after reading it out of curiosity and loving it myself, I will be sharing it with my nieces who are in that blessed age bracket.

A happy afternoon’s entertainment.

Book 2: The Seeing Stone (4 stars)

book2coverVerdict: More action but not quite as pacy as the last one. Still a very good story.

And it all kicks off! With the revelation that the Fae-folk are as real as you and me, Jared, Simon and Mallory promptly land themselves into trouble. Thimbletack, their house Brownie, warns all three of them to relinquish the Field Guide but Jared keeps it, leading to Simon being abducted by goblins.

Although an easy read, interesting and certainly more action-packed than the first book, I found The Seeing Stone somehow hit a slower pace than The Field Guide. Particularly I felt that Jared and Mallory should have perhaps chased after Simon more speedily than they did, as it seemed quite some time between him being abducted and the two of them setting out to find him – despite the logic in the approach of their rescue! It just lacked a sense of urgency.

That said, once Mallory and Jared actually set out on their mission, what followed was a page-turning success, filled with danger, intrigue, and challenges of both mind and body. We learned more about the Fae world and the book opened up more questions with every answer they gave.

I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the next one (which is currently in my bag waiting for me).


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