A Tale of Sorcery (A Tale of Magic #3), by Chris Colfer

Eight stars

Back for another Chris Colfer novel, I relaxed my views and plunged into another young adult story. Colfer uses his phenomenal imagination and some interesting plot lines to provide the reader with vivid imagery in a world far from our own. The third in the series, Colfer has been able to build on the themes from the past novels and sets the groundwork for what could be another book in the series.

Time is not on Brystal Evergreen’s side as she has yet to fulfil the promise made to Death. Seeking the Immortal to save her own life, Brystal works with her fellow fairies to locate the evil being, with little luck. There is also another evil menace lurking around them, one that presents itself in the form of fire and destruction.

When Xanthous Hayfield discovers the root of this evil, many presume that he is part of the group, as his specialty is fire, which begins raging around the Four Kingdoms. With Xanthous on the run to keep himself from being captured, Brystal works with a select group of others in the kingdoms and territories to locate her friend. They re sent on a mission that could be full of danger, but an especially secretive group of sorcerers promises their help, keen to learn more about Xanthous and his abilities. Brystal wonders if it’s too good to be true, but has such a trusting heart.

Brystal begins this epic journey, learning a great deal about herself and those around her. She worries for Xanthous, who has not had an easy life himself. It will surely be a challenge to set the record straight, while still looking for the Immortal to save herself. Brystal makes a number of new friends, while also finding new enemies along the way, in this great addition to the ‘A Tale of…’ series. Colfer at his best in another novel that let me rest my brain.

While I originally started reading these books with my son, I found them captivating enough to want to continue on my own. Neo is always eager to have me read them, so that we might discuss them together. Colfer’s imaginative style of writing pulls the reader into the middle, while also providing a key exploration of social themes prevalent to the young person of today. I am eager to see where the series is headed, while also learning more about Brystal Evergreen and her close friends.

While young adult and fantasy are two genres I do not read a great deal, I always find myself enjoying the work of Chris Colfer. A little silly, a tad out of this world, but always grounded in social and societal analyses that is aimed at the young person, Colfer creates something well worth the reader’s time. The narrative flows well and keeps me on my toes as I am immersed with a number of well-described character, each with their own personality that comes to the surface. Colfer does well to keep things light, with a peppering of evil goings-on, as is typical in something fantasy-based. Strong themes and plots emerge throughout, providing the reader with some time to wonder, rather than predict everything. I was quite impressed with the topics Colfer tackles herein and am pleased that Neo had the chance to read about them as well. Now then, Neo awaits me to talk about the book and where we want things to go in the next piece.

Kudos, Mr. Colfer, for another winner. You’ve come a long way since I first discovered you on a television program.

A Tale of Magic… (A Tale of Magic #1), by Chris Colfer

Nine stars

Receiving a strong recommendation to try this book, I set about reading it with Neo during the early stages of our COVID-19 isolation (where I spun it to be part of his language arts curriculum as I called it ‘creating reading’). While were were both enthralled with it, I can only read so much at a time, so we were advancing at a pace more suited to the attention span and sit down abilities of an eight-year-old. With Neo’s permission, I took the leap to listen to the audiobook on my own, which has Chris Colfer narrating his own piece. What an adventure it has turned out to be! Brystal Evergreen is a precocious girl who does not like the severity of the laws in the Southern Kingdom. As a young woman, she is not allowed to do anything but learn how to be a good wife to her future husband, which includes no reading whatsoever. Pushing the limits, she acquires a job as an evening maid in the town library, where she can read to her heart’s content when no one is around. She discovers a secret collection of books and begins reading them, though they have all been banned. When she comes upon one all about magic, she is intrigued and begins reading aloud, only to discover that she triggers something upon uttering an incantation for testing faeries. Unsure what to do with this knowledge, Brystal tries it again one night, but is caught and hauled off to jail, where she is sent through the legal system in quick order. When someone shows her a crumb of mercy, she is shipped off to a work camp rather than be executed for her crimes. Misery has a new name and Brystal soon discovers it in the form of her new residence. She is sure to die in this place with nothing and no one around her, save one sweet young girl. One morning, Madame Celeste Weatherberry comes to the work camp with an order from King Champion XIV to have Brystal released into her care. Madame Weatherberry takes Brystal with her and explains that magic is by no means the evil thing that she has been told. Madame Weatherberry has plans to create an academy where young people can hone their skills. As Brystal helps Madame Weatherberry find other new recruits who will bring a number of unique skills to the academy, news of a problem comes from the north, forcing Brystal to hold down the fort. What evil awaits in the Northern Kingdom and how will Brystal and her new friends conquer it with their new-found powers? The reader is pushed into the middle of quite the adventure, with all the creatures that make fantasy worth the read (and this coming from a guy who steers clear of this genre most of the time). A great story for young adult fans who enjoy something with a bit more fantasy to it. Recommended to those readers, as well as the young at heart.

I was surprised when I made the connection that Chris Colfer was an actor whose work I used to enjoy. However, what astonished me even more was the quality of the book which is said to be for young adults, as well as its ‘fantasy’ genre. I could not get enough of the story, whose plots were so well developed with a narrative that made me want to know more. Neo was fully committed as well, asking me when we could “read more magic”, which goes to show that Colfer has a knack for writing. Brystal Evergreen is surely the central character in this piece, but there are many others who bring their own flavouring to the story and keep the reader hooked. Each character has their own backstory, which serves as a piece of the larger puzzle. Just scanning all that I learned here, there is lots to develop in the coming novels of this series. Colfer keeps things in the realm of fantasy, but does not push things into the silly. There will be ogres and trolls, dwarves, and faeries, but it does not get hokey, even to the adult population, which is something that usually keeps me away from these types of stories. Colfer fills his writing with themes the reader can enjoy and morals that prove useful and relatable by the modern teen reader. I look forward to seeing where things will go, especially with some of the revelations in the latter portion of the book. I purposely kept the above summary vague, so as not to spill too much and force the curious reader to dive in. Trust me, it is worth it and hints of the next book make me wish I had the magic to speed up time.

Kudos, Mr Colfer, for an intriguing piece that left me hungering for more. Perhaps I will dabble into some of your earlier work while I wait.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons