Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy (The Chronicles of Never After, #1)Featured
Nothing ever happens in Filomena Jefferson-Cho’s sleepy little suburban town of North Pasadena. The sun shines every day, the grass is always a perfect green, and while her progressive school swears there’s no such thing as bullying, she still feels bummed out. But one day, when Filomena is walking home on her own, something strange happens.
Filomena is being followed by Jack Stalker, one of the heroes in the Thirteenth Fairy, a series of books she loves about a brave girl and her ragtag group of friends who save their world from an evil enchantress. She must be dreaming, or still reading a book. But Jack is insistent―he’s real, the stories are real, and Filomena must come with him at once!
Soon, Filomena is thrust into the world of evil fairies and beautiful princesses, sorcerers and slayers, where an evil queen drives her ruthless armies to destroy what is left of the Fairy tribes. To save herself and the kingdom of Westphalia, Filomena must find the truth behind the fairytales and set the world back to rights before the cycle of sleep and destruction begins once more.
When she runs into one of the main characters, Jack Stalker, she can hardly believe her eyes. But then, she finds that she is able to cast the spells from the books, and then, after a series of unfortunate events, ends up in Never After - the world she never thought could be real. She later learns that she may have an unexpected and critical role to play in it all.
Interspersed amongst Filomena's story is that of Caraboose, the thirteenth fairy, in a prologue that is divided throughout the book. Seeing it all come together was absolutely thrilling.
What I loved: Filomena is an excellent main character, and she experiences a lot that would be typical of the age group experience, such as feeling like she does not fit in, trying to find her place, and figure out who she is. In addition, there is a great background theme about family and what makes a family - Filomena is adopted and looks like neither of her parents, who also do not look like each other, but they still share so much love and connection, which is the true measure of family. This is an important message for young readers.
There are also some interesting themes about morality, such as if someone does a bad thing for a good reason, where would that fall on the scale, as well as the twisting/shaping of history by the person who is doing the telling, where some events may occur differently in the retelling than the actual facts. These themes are woven throughout, and I found them very intriguing and highly compelling.
The book has a lot of humor with fairytale creatures in the human world, trying to find their way, such as hunting for a thing called cheeseburgers. This kind of humor was delightfully throughout the book, and reminiscent of THE TENTH KINGDOM and/or ELLA ENCHANTED. Completely charming and giggle-worthy. As a note, this one does complete the story but leave a clear opening for the next book with a new mission. I would definitely want to check out the next, and I think this is a great start to a really fun series.
Final Verdict: A charming read with compelling characters and giggle-worthy storylines, NEVER AFTER is a middle grade fantasy that is definitely worth adding to your collection.