A Tale of Witchcraft (A Tale of Magic #2), by Chris Colfer

Eight stars

I have long been a fan of Chris Colfer, first in his television career, and more recently as an author of this genre of books. In fact, it was my son, Neo, who got me interested in them and I am eternally grateful. Colfer paints a wonderful picture of the nursery rhyme/fairytale world and keeps the reader on their toes throughout. Now that she’s taken on a powerful position, Brystal Evergreen is trying to promote the wonders of magic to all four kingdoms. However, there is a push to quash it amongst an old and established organisation that will stop at nothing to neutralise anyone who chooses to practice magic. Brystal must work to stay one step ahead of this group, while also determining who has been targeting members of the royal family to gain access to the throne. Meanwhile, a young and impressionable Lucy Goose is pulled into joining a new network of witches who want to hone the skills of faeries to practice witchcraft. Lucy accepts the invitation and soon learns that not all is as it seems, putting her in the middle of an awkward situation. As sinister powers rise, someone will have to come to save the day… and Prince Charming is nowhere to be found! Colfer’s books may be geared to the younger reader, but they can be enjoyed by those of all ages. This is truly another winner for all who are intrigued.

After a great deal of effort, Brystal Evergreen has risen to become the magic academy’s administrator, along with the fancy title of Fairy Godmother. Brystal is pleased to see that magic has not only become accepted across the Four Kingdoms, but widely practiced. The academy is booming and Brystal cannot help but be happy, allowing her some time to attend her brother’s wedding. While she’s away, one of the other instructors, Lucy Goose, is approached by a mysterious woman who speaks about a new academy that is starting; one that will show the intricacies of witchcraft. Unable to turn away from the challenge, Lucy agrees to attend and hone her skills in this other form of magic.

Meanwhile, an organisation lurks in the shadows, steeped in tradition and honour. The Righteous Brotherhood sees itself as the protectors of all things that are good and has made it their goal to eradicate magic from all kingdoms, at whatever cost. The best way to do that is to find Brystal and remove her from her position of power. With the upcoming nuptials, it would seem the perfect opportunity to remove Brystal and cause chaos in equal measure.

While Brystal is enjoying the wedding, she meets a young royal, Prince Gallivant. who is seventh in line for the throne. He aptly chooses the moniker, Seven, and has turned the excited Brystal into a smitten fairy godmother. While Brystal and Gallivant are getting closer, they are thrust into a tornado of worry, as the Righteous Brotherhood strikes and tries to take the godmother’s life. Instead, a member of the royal family is killed and Brystal is beyond worried about what this means for magic around the kingdoms.

Lucy has been learning a great deal about witchcraft and trying her best to make an impact, even though those around her at the academy are not sure she can handle it. While Lucy is determined, she’s not naive to what is going on and soon discovers that all this training is not meant to make her a more well-rounded fairy, but to sharpen skills of witchcraft that can only have detrimental effects on the magic community as a whole. Lucy must decide what to do before it’s too late, risking life and limb to protect what she feels is right.

As Brystal is targeted for her proficiency in magic, she gets pulled into the middle of a horrible plot to bring down the royals. She is forced to choose the right path and stay one step ahead of those who would see her fall. It is sure to be a harrowing feat, but what fairy tale works well without a few twists and turns throughout? Colfer has pure magic in his veins as he creates this formidable series that is sure to impress many.

Chris Colfer is spot-on with his depictions throughout this piece, pulling the intrigued reader in with the opening pages and never letting the thread of the discussion go from there. While the themes may be better suited to a younger audience, the nuances are pure entertainment for readers of all levels. This book will, as many do, offer something different for each person who picks it up, which only adds depth and wonder to the piece. Each reader will pull something different from the story, allowing the discussion to be both fruitful and varied.

Colfer develops his characters really well and keeps the reader wanting to delve deeper to understand them. While Brystal Evergreen is surely a strong character, there are others who complement her well throughout. Colfer’s use of some well-known characters from fairy tales (with a spin and a twist) keeps the story light and intriguing, while also entertaining throughout. It is the best way to write, as it mixes humour and insightfulness in equal measure. There are a number of characters who have emerged for this sequel and whose presence would be great as things continue to progress. Colfer has an amazing way with development, as can be seen in all the books he’s written over the last few years.

The story may not have been challenging to read, but it was certainly worth the time invested. The characters are on point, the plot moves along well, and there is, as mentioned before, entertainment value at many levels for the curious reader. I was highly impressed with how the narrative kept things clipping along. With chapters of various lengths, the reader was able to get fully invested at times, while racing through the story at different points, hoping to get to the juicier bits. There’s surely something for everyone in this piece and I am eager to see what else Chris Colfer has to offer in the coming years, as he has surely found his niche with this type of book.

Kudos, Mr. Colfer, for another winner. I am happy to find a book that can impress Neo and also have me wanting to find more for us both to enjoy!

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

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