Book Reviews

The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Completely Fantastical Edition by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black | Book Review

The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Completely Fantastical Edition by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black. The Spiderwick Chronicles, #1-5. Omnibus includes: #1 The Field Guide, #2 The Seeing Stone, #3 Lucinda’s Secret, #4 The Ironwood Tree, and #5 The Wrath of Mulgarath.

My copy: Simon & Schuster BFYR, 2009. Hardcover, 497 pages.

Source: Library.

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Synopsis:

The entire Spiderwick Chronicles story in one book, including brand new material!


The Spiderwick Chronicles is a delightful middle grade fantasy series that revolves around a field guide of magical creatures. This beautiful bind-up edition includes not just the five books that make up the series, but also conception artwork, “lost chapters”, and additional illustrations of the Spiderwick world by other established illustrators. My attention never gravitates toward the “extra/behind-the-scenes” bits at the back of books (except for Q&As with authors), so I will only be talking about the overall and original story.

Each individual book is only about 100 pages long, including the gorgeous pen and ink illustrations by co-author Tony Diterlizzi. Lumped altogether into one, it feels like a complete, if very rushed, story. And each separate book only contains one real event/adventure. The first book, The Field Guide, actually is the least eventful of them all (okay, on second thought, Books #3 was pretty slow, maybe slower because it wasn’t as spooky), as it acts as the setup for the series. Interestingly enough, Book #1 is my favorite. It introduces us to Jared and Simon Grace, twins, and their older sister Mallory. Jared is adventurous but has a temper, Simon is quiet and has a soft side for animals, and Mallory is bossy and is a skilled fencer–don’t mess with her because she will use her sword on you. (The only Mallory I’ve ever encountered in books and she’s totally cool. Though, she’s not the greatest babysitter to her brothers…) They and their mother (oh, parents in middle grade books who never believe what their kids tell them–sigh) move into their Aunt Lucinda’s old house (we meet her in Book #3), and are almost immediately pestered by a very strange creature who is living there already. The Field Guide has a certain eeriness to it that hits the right spot, and it does a wonderful job of introducing us to the Grace siblings.

Book #2, The Seeing Stone, deals with the Grace children meeting more of these fantastical creatures, and includes the rescuing of more than one being. Book #3, Lucinda’s Secret, which I previously said may be the slowest of them all, is where we meet Aunt Lucinda and find out some surprising things about Mr. Spiderwick himself. Book #4, The Ironwood Tree, is my least favorite in the series. It felt a little random, a little too silly, a little too far-fetched. And the last book, The Wrath of Mulgarath, may be the most far-fetched of them all–even though it has such an unexpected, delicious ending. The books have some surprisingly graphic bits, and briefly touch on some very heavy subject matter for kids in the 8-12 year-old range.

Before I wrap this review up, let me squeak in three last things: (1) The chapters are titled “IN WHICH”… I absolutely love this style of chapter titles. It adds a subtle ambiance to the story while announcing what happens either vaguely or not-so vaguely. It was a perfect choice for this type of story. (2) I spied homage to Alice in Wonderland! Gotta love that random Phooka that resembled the Cheshire Cat character. And (3) I really wanted to see more of Thimbletack and even Hogsqueal throughout the books. So in conclusion… If you’re going to read The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, I highly recommend picking up the bind-up or having all five books at once. Alone they are not enough to satisfy, and they go by super quickly, but together they make up a very entertaining tale that I wish could have been expanded upon even more. Because I am a sucker for magical creatures. Especially dragons. ♦


Have you read The Spiderwick Chronicles?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
Comment below letting me know!

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