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Book Review

A Grimm Warning by Chris Colfer has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the third book in the “Land of Stories” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

A long time ago, the year 1811 to be exact, the Brothers Grimm were taken prisoner by General Jacques du Marquis, an officer in the French army. He had determined that the stories the brothers wrote were about a real place, and he intended to conquer it for Napoleon. General Marquis had also found Mother Goose and locked her in a cage. When Mother Goose woke up, the brothers told her what had happened. She disappeared in a flash of light. General Marquis threatened the lives of the Grimm family if the brothers refused to help him find a portal to the Land of Stories within two months.

The story returns to the present where Conner Bailey, now 13, is packing for a trip to Germany with his school to hear three recently uncovered stories written by the Brothers Grimm. He uses the magic mirror his grandmother, the legendary Fairy Godmother, gave him to contact his sister, Alex. She is in the Land of Stories studying to be a fairy godmother. In fact, she is preparing for the Inaugural Ball, which will celebrate her joining the Fairy Council. Alex suggests Conner break off a small piece of the mirror so that he may take it with him to Germany. That way, they can stay in contact with each other.

Alex spends the first part of every morning trying to grant three wishes for random people in the Land of Stories. Her obese unicorn, Cornelius, uses his magic horn to find those who need her help. Although Alex means well, she often makes mistakes, such as when she tried to fill a dry well so a town would not be thirsty and winds up flooding the town instead. A farmer insists she not use magic to build a needed fence. Annoyed at his lack of trust in her abilities, Alex builds the fence by hand. Her efforts catch the eye of the farmer’s handsome son, Rook.

Conner’s stepfather takes him to the airport to meet his teacher and classmates. He does not care for most of the girls going on the trip, because they are rude to him, but he has a crush on Bree, who ends up sitting next to him on the plane. Bree loves reading and is especially fond of mysteries. She asks about Alex and does not believe Conner’s story that his sister is in Vermont.

Alex’s grandmother advises her to take some time off from her magic lessons, so she accepts Rook’s invitation to go for a walk with him the following evening. She also attends the wedding of her friends Jack and Goldilocks. Queen Red Riding Hood attends as well and gives Alex confusing advice about Rook. Alex agrees to visit Red’s kingdom the following day as a way to get her mind off her upcoming date.

In Germany, Conner attends the reading of the new stories by the Brothers Grimm. He is shocked when the first two stories are actually ones that he wrote the previous year. Bree questions him because she also read his stories, but Conner claims it is just a coincidence.

The third story tells of an invading army trapped within a fairy in a portal for 200 years. However, when the 200 years have passed, they will find their way to the Land of Stories and wage war against it. Conner knows this message was meant to warn him, and he must find a way to get a message to his sister. He fakes illness and returns to his hotel room to try to summon Alex with the magic mirror.

Alex attends a special meeting of Red’s government, only to witness Little Bo Peep demand an election to decide if she should lead the kingdom instead of Red. Later, Alex shares this news with Rook. He suggests they do some investigating to discover why Bo has suddenly challenged Red. They see the shepherdess talking to a man in her own magic mirror, promising to help him.

Alex and Rook nearly share a kiss before he leaves her for the night. The following day, Alex prepares for the Inaugural Ball. She discovers that during her training, she has been tested to see if she had the qualities to be a fairy. Without knowing it, she passed the tests for courage, grace and kindness. Now she must explain why she wants to join the Fairy Council so she can pass the test of heart.

She explains that she knows what it is like to live without magic, and so she has empathy for those in the land without it. She feels she can be a fairy for the common people. The Fairy Godmother declares Alex has passed her test. Alex is surprised to see Rook eavesdropping on the ball. He explains that he wanted to see her, but had not realized the ball was explicitly for her. Now that he knows the truth, he likes her even more. They share a kiss.

The Fairy Godmother confides to Mother Goose, now that Alex has been chosen to be her successor, that the Fairy Godmother is losing her power. Some of her enchantments are starting to dissolve. It also means the Fairy Godmother is going to die. Mother Goose leaves the ball to try and contact Conner. He is in the bathroom of the airport when Mother Goose opens the mirror. He tells her about the Grimm Brothers’ warning, and she tells him about General Marquis. She had enchanted the portal that the French army went through so it would take 200 years to make the journey. When the Fairy Godmother closed all the portals after the Enchantress was defeated, Mother Goose thought the army would never get through, and she would not have to tell anyone. But now that the Fairy Godmother’s magic is failing, Mother Goose is afraid the portal may again be open.

She sends Conner on a hunt to find it. Conner tries to slip away from the airport, but Bree has been spying on him. She insists on helping him, and the two travel to London and Monte Carlo for clues before heading back to Germany to the famous Neuschwanstein Castle where the portal is hidden. Ten-year-old Emmerich offers to help them get into the castle after it closes. There, they discover the open portal and all three are transported to the Land of Stories.

Alex has spent the time since the ball helping Red Riding Hood recover from the loss of her throne to Little Bo Peep. She also spends time with Rook. Red’s boyfriend, Prince -aka Froggy, finds himself transformed back into a frog as the Fairy Godmother grows weaker. Alex learns the sad fact that, because she has been chosen to inherit the title, her grandmother is dying.

Conner, Bree and Emmerich arrive in the Land of Stories at the same time as General Marquis and his army. They race to find Alex. She calls a meeting of all the nobles of the Kingdoms and has them organize their armies. She then creates a magic path, which will keep them hidden from the French. As the portal to return home does not work for Emmerich and Bree, they are sent with the nobles in order to keep them safe. Jack and Goldilocks accompany the group to act as their bodyguards.

General Marquis releases prisoners who wish to help him fight for control of the land. A Masked Man offers him the only way to assure victory. He leads General Marquis to the Snow Queen. There General Marquis promises to give her back her Kingdom in exchange for her dragon egg. The Masked Man claims that a dragon is the only beast capable of defeating the fairies.

Conner and Alex travel to the Trolls and get their army to help in the coming war. Meanwhile, the nobles are traveling on the enchanted path when Sleeping Beauty spies her kingdom in ruins. She forces the carriages to stop so she can survey the damage and hears the cry of a baby. She rescues a little girl from the wreckage and vows to adopt her.

Alex and Conner visit the Elf Kingdom to gain their support. Alex promises their queen that she will share management of a new assembly of kingdoms once the war has been won, and the queen agrees to help them. Unfortunately, the French begin their attack before the Elves can be brought to defend the Fairy Kingdom. Alex and Conner escape, but they are severely wounded when a cannonball knocks them from the sky.

A kind witch helps them recover. They discover that the man in Bo’s mirror was the Masked Man from prison. The witch tells them the man was evil and once tried to steal something from the Fairy Godmother.

Alex and Conner combine their magical abilities and are able to gather all the hidden armies and get them to the Fairy Kingdom just as General Marquis arrives. He threatens to burn the nobles, whom he has captured with the help of Rook, if the fairies do not surrender. The fairies help the nobles escape, and they join in the battle.

General Marquis calls forth the Masked Man who releases the dragon. The man uses the dragon to kill General Marquis. Bo tries to reason with him, but he turns the dragon on them all. The Fairy Godmother regains her strength long enough to defeat the dragon, after which, her body dissolves into hundreds of lights that float up to the sky.

Bree and Emmerich are sent home. Alex confronts Rook about his betrayal, and although he did it to save his father and other villagers, she cannot forgive him.

As her first act as Fairy Godmother, she creates the Happily Forever After Assembly, which allows the trolls and elves equal voice with humans and fairies in the running of the Land of Stories. As Alex retires in her room, she is shocked to discover the Masked Man stealing a vial. She takes off his mask and is horrified to see the evil thief is her father.

Christian Beliefs

In a fairy tale, a fish is said to wish he had remained the way God had intended him to be.

Other Belief Systems

The Land of Stories is a world of magic and mythical creatures. As such, the fairies are able to use wands to transform humans and things. General Marquis tells his army that the gods would be proud of their efforts. Mother Goose explains that the Fairy Godmother has given her soul permission to move on now that Alex has passed her tests. When she does die, her body becomes weightless and transforms into hundreds of lights that float to the sky. Mother Goose tells the children that Bree and Emmerich must both have had ancestors to whom magic had been transferred. The magic would have been passed down through their blood, much like fairies.

The reader is told Alex prays for her common sense and logic to help her in the coming war, but the reader is not told to whom she prays. Mother Goose also prays for the safety of the twins and her goose as they recruit the troll and elf armies.

Authority Roles

As with the other books in this series, Alex and Conner, now 13, are left to solve problems and fight many battles on their own. They are loved by adults in the story, and take advice from them, but ultimately, the children face dangers on their own.

Profanity/Violence

God’s name is used with thank. The expression good heavens is also used as well as the word butt. One of the Grimm brothers exclaims that General Marquis is obsessed like King Arthur was over the Holy Grail.

It is obvious that General Marqui’s soldiers have beaten the Brothers Grimm. Their hands are bound behind their backs. General Marquis had Mother Goose poisoned in order to take her prisoner. When he arrives in the Land of Stories, he questions a villager and then has the man taken into the forest and shot.

The army blows up the wooden soldiers that guard the prison. Conner and Alex learn that Gretel was put in prison for killing her brother, Hansel. She accidently pushed him over a cliff. She tells them how she was the one who really pushed the wicked witch into the oven.

The French army destroys a town, burning it to the ground and taking surviving villagers as prisoners. The army lobs cannonballs into the Elf Forest. General Marquis locks the nobles into their carriages and lights them on fire when the fairies refuse to surrender.

In the final battle, the armies battle each other with swords. The French army shoots cannonballs and guns, while the fairies try and bind them with vines and shoot water at them. Other fairies lob globes of fire at the cannons to destroy them.

The Troll Queen’s love dies in her arms. The dragon kills General Marquis with his fire. Little Bo Peep dies of a broken heart when the Masked Man orders the dragon to kill her and her friends. The unicorns stab the dragon with their horns, but he knocks them away or scorches them. The Fairy Godmother uses her wand to create a whip of fire that destroys the dragon.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Alex and Rook share several kisses. Bree kisses Conner on the cheek several times.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Alcohol: Mother Goose is portrayed as a lush. She talks many times of drinking in various bars and pubs around the world. The last time she officiated a wedding, Puss in Boots drank all her bubbly.

Gambling: Mother Goose also gambles with cards.

Lying: Conner lies to the others on the trip about Alex’s whereabouts. He and Bree also lie about who they are in order to get Emmerich to help them. In fact, Conner lies throughout much of his time in this world in order to find his way to the Land of Stories.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

8 to 12

Author

Chris Colfer

Cast

Director

Distributor

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

Little, Brown and Company; a division of Hachette Book Group Inc.

Released

On Video

Year Published

2014

Awards

Unknown

Reviewer

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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