Posted in Book Reviews

Nixies and Boggarts and Ogres Oh My! A Return to the Spiderwick Chronicles

So unfortunately due to assignment deadlines etc I wasn’t able to write anything last week.  This week though, I’ve had a chance to revisit my childhood and delve into a world of fairies and fantastical creatures.  This week, I reread some of my favorite children’s books, The Spiderwick Chronicles

spiderwick chronicles

and Beyond The Spiderwick Chronicles

BtSC

The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi are a series of 5 books that tell the story of the Grace children, Jared, Simon and Mallory. After moving into their Great Aunt’s run-down mansion, the discovery of a field guide about fairies leads them on a dangerous journey to protect themselves and the ones they care about.

I loved these books growing up and they still charm me now.  There is something very reassuring about going back to something so familiar. This week, I wasn’t feeling too great, I’ve had a bit of a bug and been a bit migrainy.  All in all, it’s not been a great week for concentration so these books have been perfect.  It’s been really soothing to read familiar tales and meet familiar characters. These books are a very easy read and each one is split into nice small chapters so that you can dip in to them for short bursts of time.

The creatures that you meet throughout the story are generally ones that you will have heard of before, elves, brownies, goblins and griffins etc but some of them have new interesting twists on their mythology.  For example, a boggart is actually a brownie who has been made very unhappy. These twists make the concepts feel new and refreshing.

One particular feature that I love about all the books in both series is that at the end of each story is a poem that gives you hints and clues about what’s going to happen in the next book.  I’m not even sure why I love these poems so much.  When I was younger and first buying them as they came out, it was partly so because I had that little bit extra to read before the book ended.  Obviously I have all the books now and know what is going to happen in each one and yet whenever I read the series, I had to read each poem before starting the next book.  I can’t explain it but for some reason, I still get a jolt of excitement about these hints of what’s to come.

The other thing that I love about these books are the illustrations.  They are wonderful and throughout each book are a selection of coloured pictures that take my breath away.  I would love to get some prints of them and put them up around my house.  The colours and details are just so lovely to look at.

Beyond The Spiderwick Chronicles is a trilogy that, as the title says, is set after and beyond the original 5 books.  These books focus on another cast of characters who have read the original 5 books and end up in a fairy based adventure of their own. I love the idea of these characters reading the original stories, it helps fix things into the real world and is an idea that I haven’t seen done before.  The Grace children also turn up on a regular basis which just makes me feel happy.

Personally, I don’t think the story in the second installment is as strong as the story in the first but it still holds the same sort of charm.  The only downside for me is that I don’t find the main character (Nick) as likable as I found any of the others and seeing as the books are told from his perspective, it can get a little bit tiresome but I would still suggest that fans of the first 5 read these 3 as well.

Overall, I would say that the Spiderwick books are quite simple stories but that certainly doesn’t make them any less worth while.  There is something quite healing about returning to childhood even just for a few hours and with these books that journey is almost instantaneous. The stories are beautifully told and so easy to picture that it’s easy to get swept away.  Echos of these books tend to stay with me for a few days after I read them, particularly when I wonder if a boggart is hiding my keys again…

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