Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy

de la Cruz, Melissa. Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy
December 1st 2020 by Roaring Brook Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

 Filomena Jefferson-Cho is a huge fan of the Never After books and goes to her local book store to get the last book in the series. Unfortunately, the book is not there, and it turns out that the author, Casseiopia Valle Croix, died years ago and the estate has released the titles. There never was a 13th book; not even notes. Crushed, she is surprised when a boys dressed as two of the  characters, Jack and Allistair, accosts her. They have come into Filomena's dimension to escape Queen Olga, and are looking for an object that Olga might want to use to secure her power. They invite her to come to Never After because she knows so much about the stories, and she gladly obliges, especially since her best friend Maggie has been hanging out with the popular girls, dubbed "the fettucine Alfredos" because they often have this dish delivered for their lunch from a local restaurant. In order to get to Never After, they have to travel back through the Heart Tree portal, which is unlocked by the theme song to the movies. Thrilled to be inside the pages of her favorite story, Filomena tries to solve the problem, and learns surprising things about herself in the meantime. 
Strengths: What avid reader doesn't want to travel into their favorite story? Not only travel into it, but to help write it? Never After is exactly the sort of fantasy books that attracts readers who memorizes all of the intricacies of the story, and Filomena is fearless in embracing this opportunity. I loved that even though the Never After story was a Tolkien-y, Celtic-ish tale, Filomena and the cast of Filomena's world were more diverse. The back story about her adoption was clever. I can see this being popular with readers of Chainani's School for Good and Evil series, Chris Colfer's Land of Stories books or James' The Book Wanderers.
Weaknesses: I absolutely loved this author's Blue Bloods (2006), which was an enormous hit during the days when Twilight (2006) was popular. She does a fantastic YA novel, but her middle grade books have a few missteps in tone for me. This is very common, and won't be noticed by avid fantasy readers at whom this series, and a series like this author's The Descendants, is aimed. 
What I really think: Since I haven't had a strong core of fantasy readers for a while. Fifteen years ago, I probably would have bought two copies. 
Ms. Yingling

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