Let me just say upfront that I love faerie stories and the darker the better. Moving on. The Spiderwick Chronicles are nowhere near the complexity of the Harry Potter books but they are still good reads for adults.
The story opens with the Grace family moving into their new home. They have left New York City to settle into the country. While the narrative is in third person, the story follows Jared, a nine-year old kid whose parents have recently divorced. His siblings include his twin brother, Simon, who keeps a menagerie of pets around him and his older sister Mallory, who is obsessed with fencing. Since the divorce, Jared has had problems at home and at school. However, it isn’t too long after they’ve moved into their new home that life offers the Grace family some interesting distractions.
They explore the home only to discover a secret library and Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You. It is an illustrated book about faeries. The book exposes their secrets along with mentioning other supernatural creatures that inhabit our world.
Shortly after they are introduced to the book, we see the kids battle with goblins, fight with ogres, match wits with elves and solve riddles in order to escape back home. They eventually meet up with the biggest and baddest monster of them all and he only wants one thing: the field guide.
The stories are very quick reads and albeit, a bit predictable. If you enjoyed Lord of the Rings then you would enjoy these stories. I enjoyed The Spiderwick Chronicles because the authors have a very vivid and creative imagination.
Oftentimes there were scenes that were very suspenseful and then there were scenes that had emotional undertones, reminding the reader that despite all the fantastical stuff that’s going on, this story is about a family in transition. Holly Black does an outstanding job of blending the fantasy aspects of this story with that of modern day reality. It’s one of the reasons why I am drawn to her work.
If you enjoy fantasy then The Spiderwick Chronicles are worth a look. The stories are nicely illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi who brings depth and emotion to these characters. I especially loved the illustrated pics of the many different fey from the realm of Faerie.
I know some “young reader” books have crossover appeal that can be easily read by both children and adults. I’m afraid that The Spiderwick Chronicles doesn’t seem to fit within that category to me but YMMV. My grade for this box set is a strong B. I’m sure many of you are already aware that the stories have already been adapted to film and sequels have already been published since the release of this box set.