Review Detail

Middle Grade Fiction 86
A fairy tale adventure
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
What worked:
The conflicted relationship between Anwen and Cerys is a highlight as the girls try to solve the mystery of the giant king. Cerys is a highly skilled student of High Magic at the academy while Anwen is training with her grandmother to become a Meadow Witch. Cerys doesn’t mask her disdain for the other girl when she calls Anwen a ditch witch and subtle insults continue throughout the story. Being thrown into the giants’ kingdom forces them to work together no matter how strained their past might be. This isn’t to say the transition is smooth as the conflict adds tension and interest to the plot. Cerys eventually reveals secrets about her life that help Anwen understand the girl’s anger.
Solving the king’s murder is the main focus of the plot and readers will follow Anwen’s investigation and collection of clues. Her efforts are complicated since the giants are suspicious of the tiny “vermin” and don’t want them running around freely. Also, palace cats will gladly each them for breakfast! However, Anwen is a determined character and manages to find ways to maneuver around the giant palace. She investigates which giants have motives and opportunities to kill the king even if the characters seem beyond suspicion, like the princess. The Chamberlain immediately dislikes Anwen and Cerys and suggests the princess kill them right away but he also seems to hate everyone. Anwen’s grandmother is finding clues down in Old Stump but there’s no way to communicate with her granddaughter. Readers will have an advantage over the characters as they’ll be able to piece the evidence together. The author saves a twist near the end as Anwen senses she still doesn’t have the whole story.
The early part of the book will be familiar to young readers as it’s related to the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk. Having a giant fall into the middle of Old Stump leaves quite an impression, pun intended, and the plot follows its own creative path after that. The author does a great job of describing the challenges of being tiny in a giant setting since Anwen and Cerys can’t quickly or easily move about the castle or even a room. Moving between areas of the structure can be miles away to them so they’re forced to find other means of transportation.
What didn’t work as well:
The plot feels fairly predictable although the author still manages to find room for some surprises. This familiar, user-friendly format will help young readers become accustomed to solving perplexing mysteries as they transition into books with more complex text.
The final verdict:
The mystery, humor, and recognizable style make this book fun to read. The delicate balance in the relationship between Anwen and Cerys adds emotion to the plot and helps readers connect with the characters. Overall, this book will appeal to lovers of folklore and fairy tales and I recommend you give it a shot.
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