Book Review: The Enchanted Forest Chronicles Box Set

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Title: The Enchanted Forest Chronicles Box Set

Rating: 5 Stars

Author: Patricia C. Wrede

Genres: Fantasy, Children’s, Juvenile, Young Adult, Adventure

Description:

Collected together for the first time are Patricia C. Wrede’s hilarious adventure stories about Cimorene, the princess who refuses to be proper. Every one of Cimorene’s adventures is included in its paperback edition–Dealing with Dragons, Searching for Dragons, Calling on Dragons, and Talking to Dragons–in one handsome package that’s perfect for gift giving.

This box set includes:

Review:

This series was FANTASTIC. I first read The Enchanted Forest Chronicles as a  young teen in middle school, and the impression it left me with was so strong, that decades later I asked for a box set of the children’s books for Christmas. My family looked at me a little funny (being that I am now 30 years old), but lo and behold, I obtained the box set come Christmas morning. I spent the next few months reading through the four books (a chapter a day) with a 10 year old member of my family, and wasn’t surprised to find, that I still loved the series every bit as much as I did as a child.

The series follows the lives of a colorful cast of fantasy characters ranging from the princess who doesn’t  want to be a princess, to a baby dragon that wants to grow up too soon, an ill-tempered fire-witch, a boy who doesn’t realize he’s a prince, and a giant blue donkey that flies and used to be a rabbit. The pages are filled with humor, adventure, mystery, romance, magic battles, and familiar fairytale characters that have been adapted to this wonderfully entertaining series. The books are perfect for children of all ages, ranging from about 3rd grade on up—and even adults will love these light-hearted stories. I wouldn’t change a thing about these books… I’m only saddened that there weren’t more books to the series.

If you’re looking for a series of fantasy books to share with a child in your family (or at your school) you would do well to pick this series up. I guarantee you won’t regret it.

Book Review: Talking To Dragons

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Title: Talking To Dragons [The Enchanted Forest Chronicles 4]

Author: Patricia C. Wrede

Genre: Juvenile, Children’s, Fantasy, Adventure

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Always be polite to dragons!

That’s what Daystar’s mother taught him… and it’s a very wise lesson—one that might just help him after is mom hands him a magic sword and kicks him out of the house. Especially because his house sits on the edge of the Enchanted Forest and his mother is Queen Cimorene.

But the tricky part is figuring out what he’s supposed to do with the magic sword. Where is he supposed to go? And why does everyone he meets seem to know who he is?

It’s going to take a particularly hotheaded fire-witch, a very verbose lizard, and a badly behaved baby dragon to help him figure it all out.

And those good manners certainly won’t hurt!

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I’m sad to have finally reached the end of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. This series was fantastic, and the last book, Talking To Dragons, went out with a bang. This book was a little different than the previous three in the series. It was told from the point of view of Daystar, Cimorene’s son, and follows an entirely new cast of characters (though the much-loved characters from the first three books still make an appearance). It is entirely stand alone, and easy to get into even if you haven’t read the previous books in the series. I’ll admit it took a little getting used to at the start—not because of the change of cast, but because unlike the previous three books, this book was not told from a third-person point of view, but first-person instead.

The narrative was clean, easy-to-follow, and engaging. It was well-edited with a decided lack of punctuation, spelling, or grammatical mistakes, and just like the previous books in the series, the narrative was filled with misadventures and humor. The book contained a colorful cast: an ill-tempered fire witch, a rural boy who is tragically new to adventuring, a baby dragon that wants all-too-quickly to grow up, and a curious little lizard named Suz. Their journey leads them deep into the heart of the dangerous and often-times confusing Enchanted Forest, through the perilous depths of the Caves of Chance, and straight into an all out war between the dragons and wizards. There’s romance, adventure, daring battles, mystery, and a good dose of humor within these pages that is sure to be enjoyed by children and adults of any age.

I loved this series, and I loved this book. It’s  perfect for younger readers as it is littered with familiar fairy tales, quirky characters, and silliness that would make any child grin from ear to ear. I read through this with a 10 year old, and by the end both of us were squealing in joy and laughing out loud and the antics of the characters. At one point we broke into a fit of laughter that lasted so long we had to set the book down for a few minutes just to get it out of our system. If you’re looking to introduce a child into the joys of reading fantasy, be sure to pick up this book. You won’t regret it.  If you’re an adult looking for some light-hearted reading, this is easily entertaining to readers of all ages. My only regret is that there wasn’t another book in the series. Alas, all series must end. I cannot recommend this book, and this series enough.

Book Review: Calling On Dragons

 

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Title: Calling On Dragons [Enchanted Forest Chronicles 3]

Author: Patricia C. Wrede

Genre: Children’s, Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Princess Cimorene is now Queen Cimorene… and she’s faced with her first queenly crisis—the Enchanted Forest is threatened with complete destruction!

Those wizards are back—and they’ve become very smart. (Sort of.) They’ve figured out a way to take over the forest once and for all… and what they have planned isn’t pretty.

With a little help from Kazul the dragon king, Morwen the witch, Telemain the magician, two cats, and a blue, flying donkey-rabbit named—what else?—Killer, Cimorene might just be able to stop them.

And some people think that being a queen is easy.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I can’t help but love this book and the others in it’s series. It is one of the funniest fantasy stories I’ve ever read, and even though It’s meant for Juvenile readers, I enjoyed it every bit as much as the 10 year old I’ve been reading it to.

The characters in this series are witty, stubborn, and sometimes short-tempered. They are vibrant and funny, and sure to make any child grin from ear to ear. I’ll admit, I can’t decide which character I liked best: Fiddlesticks the cat who has an alarming penchant for fish and a decided lack of common sense, or his mirror, Killer, the rabbit who can’t help but nibble on bits of magical things when he finds them. It’s no surprise the poor blotchy rabbit has turned himself into a 7’11” (at the ears) hovering, blue, insubstantial donkey with oversized wings. Killer made me laugh throughout the book.

The story was filled with adventure, hijinks, danger, and grumbly self-important wizards that have to ruin everyone’s day. The writing was engaging, clear, and easy to follow. Reading it aloud to a 10 year old, I was being begged for just “one more chapter!” on a daily basis. Most days we ended up reading three or four instead of one as we had originally planned.

Overall, I loved this book. I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Would I recommend it to others? Honestly, if you have a kid, I’d make it mandatory. Any child will love this book, and it’s filled with messages of self-empowerment (males and females both!) amidst all the silliness. I think you’ll love it every bit as much as I do.

Book Review: Searching For Dragons

 

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Title: Searching For Dragons [Enchanted Forest Chronicles 2]

Author: Patricia C. Wrede

Genre: Children’s, Juvenile, Fantasy, Adventure

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Cimorene, the princess who refuses to be proper, is back—but where is Kazul the dragon? That’s what Cimorene is determined to find out.

Luckily—or perhaps not-so-luckily—she’s got help: Mendanbar, the not-very-kingly King of the Enchanted Forest, has joined her in her quest. So with the aid of a broken-down magic carpet, a leaky magical sword, and a few buckets of soapy lemon water, they set off across the Enchanted Forest to tackle the dragon-napping and save the King of the Dragons.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I cannot get enough of this series. Like the previous book in the series, Dealing with Dragons, Searching for Dragons is a hilarious, witty romp of Juvenile Fantasy. The book follows Cimorene, a princess who doesn’t very much like the idea of being a princess, as she sets out on a mission to discover what has happened to Kazul, the King of the Dragons—her employer—who has gone mysteriously missing. She teams up with Mendanbar, the King of the Enchanted Forest, as well as Morwen the Witch and Telemain the Sorcerer in order to defeat the conniving wizards in their plot to steal the magic out of the Enchanted Forest.

I’ll admit, even as an adult, this is still one of my favorite tongue-in-cheek fantasy series of all time. The characters are hilariously witty and sometimes outright absurd. Patricia C. Wrede has managed to piece together a children’s fiction that is both clever in it’s storyline, and deliciously fun for any age of reader.

In this particular story, I enjoyed the new dynamic of having a love interest pop up for Cimorene. I wasn’t sure how Ms. Wrede was going to handle a decidedly adult topic in a children’s book, but I think she handled it spectacularly well. I’ve been sharing this particular series with a 10-year old in my family over the past few weeks and we both squealed like the girls we are when the romance sub-plot of this story started to unfold. I think the author did a great job of building up the romance in a way that wasn’t in-your-face, and remained comfortable for younger audiences, while still managing to reach the point where the romance felt satisfying between the characters with little more than a few stolen kisses.

Honestly, I don’t have anything I can criticize this book for. The series is great, the novel was brilliant. I can’t wait to read book 3! Overall, I really enjoyed this story—every bit as much as the first—and I’d be happy to read it again, and share it with others. I highly recommend it for anyone who may have a younger family member to share it with, but it’s equally as entertaining for any adult who enjoys silly fantasy. I think you’ll enjoy this one.

Book Review: Dealing With Dragons [Enchanted Forest Chronicles 1]

 

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Title: Dealing With Dragons [Enchanted Forest Chronicles 1]

Author: Patricia C. Wrede

Genre: Middle-Grade, Children’s, Fantasy

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Take one bored princess. Maker her the seventh daughter in a very proper royal family. Have her run away.


Add one powerful, fascinating, dangerous dragon.

Princess Cimorene has never met anyone (or anything) like the dragon Kazul. But then, she’s never met a witch, a jinn, a death-dealing talking bird, or a stone prince either.

Princess Cimorene ran away to find some excitement.

She’s found plenty.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I’ve done something I haven’t done in a very long time. I read a middle-grade book. More importantly: I thoroughly enjoyed a middle-grade book. I first stumbled upon this series about 18 years ago, when I was 12. It was one of the first fantasy books I ever picked up in middle-school, and it left enough of an impression that many years later, as an adult, I was willing to pick it back up. Surprisingly, I had loved the book so much all those years ago, that I still remembered almost the entire plot.

Dealing with Dragons at it’s heart is a story about the Princess Cimorene. She’s the youngest of seven daughters, and the only one who detests being a princess. She’d like nothing more than to do something exciting with her life—and she tries. She takes fencing lessons, cooking lessons, even learns foreign languages for fun, but her plans are always put to a stop by her over-bearing parents, and when they start to arrange her marriage for her, she decides enough is enough. Cimorene runs away and throws everything to the wind, giving up her life of riches and nobility to become a dragon’s maid.

What ensues is a hilarious romp through Middle-grade fantasy with an empowered princess who isn’t going to let anyone tell her what to do with her life anymore. In the process she makes friends like the dragon Kazul, Alianora the neighboring captured princess, a stone prince,  and Morwen the witch. She fights a dastardly wizard, fends off enamored knights and princes intent on “rescuing her”, and has the adventure of her life.

This book is a hilarious twist on your usual fairytale, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone—children and adults alike. Get the entire box set, you won’t regret it.  I’d personally recommend it for anyone 3rd grade and up.