Illustrator: Tony DiTerlizzi
Series: Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles #1
Also in this series: A Giant Problem, The Wyrm King
Published by Simon & Schuster on September 18th 2007
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Young Adult
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The Spiderwick Chronicles leave the old-fashioned charm of New England far behind and head south for some fiendish faerie fun in the hot Florida sun. Eleven-year-old Nicholas Vargas only thinks his life has been turned upside down after his developer father remarries and moves his new wife and daughter into the soon-to-be completed Mangrove Hollow.
But an "expedition" to a nearby lake turns up a little nixie with a giant problem - the huge, lumbering, fire-breathing variety - and it's up to Nick; his stepsister, Laurie; and his big brother, Julian (plus a familiar face from the original Spiderwick Chronicles) to figure out the best way to stop a host of rampaging giants before all of Florida goes up in smoke.
The Nixie’s Song: The book in which everyone makes a conscious decision to be a jerk.
There’s a lot going on here. I would have to say that Nick and Laurie’s situation is even worse than the Grace siblings’. Nick’s mom is dead, and his dad married Laurie’s mom, and Nick and Laurie hate each other. They fight much worse. What’s funny is that they start off being civil, but then slowly grow to hate each other the more they have to deal with faeries. I think the opposite happens with the Grace siblings. They slowly grow to hate faeries, too, even Laurie, who was obsessed with the idea of them before. I guess being real is an attribute that makes them less appealing. But it does make it a bit depressing. All of the above. I just think it’s funny that Nick took their existence so well. He was definitely a non-believer, but then he sees a faerie for the first time and he’s like, “Oh, that’s one of those things Laurie was talking about, better go get her.” Totally chill. And when things get complicated, he’s the more level-headed one—Laurie breaks down first. She admits defeat. But Nick keeps them going. Even though he was a lot like Jared—angry and bitter all the time and determined not to “bother” anybody. Basically decided to be a loner. Laurie was definitely cool at first—she didn’t care what anybody thought and loved all kinds of wacky things (according to Nick). But then she became bitter too.
And then there’s the authors’ self-insertion. Always a fun thing. Especially when they don’t believe the main characters about faeries. It’s alllll fiction. *wink wink* And then they happen upon Jared and Simon themselves, who also for some reason don’t believe them at first? I mean what the heck. If anyone should believe kids about faeries, it should be them three. But it’s like they aged a few years, and became stinky rotten teenagers with attitude. That is the impression I got. Like I said, this is the book in which everyone becomes an a-hole. That’s not even to mention Nick and Laurie’s parents. Obviously Nick’s dad blames him for more faerie mayhem, cause that’s a huge theme in these books (well, most books involving magic probably), but thankfully that takes a backseat here as Nick’s dad is not present in most of the book. But when he’s present, he’s a jerk. And Laurie’s mom simply ignores them most of the time. She’s the type to say “that’s nice dear” and then go back to whatever she’s doing. Parents of the year right there.
To be fair, Jared does help them a little bit, but is still a jerk the whole time. Everyone’s a jerk to everyone else. It’s a miracle they get anything done. Even the nixie whose life they saved is kind of mean about it—threatening bad things if they don’t help her find her sisters. Like, come on, this would be a favour to you. They just saved your life, they’re not indebted to you at all—you’re indebted to them, jeez. That whole situation is more complicated than I can say here without spoiling everything. It’s just a mess. And not a fun one.
But I do like that we’re getting introduced to more creatures than in the first series. I said in my review of the Guide that nixies would be cool to hang out with, and they probably would, as long as there was no debt repayment in question and no imminent death by giants. It kind of puts a damper on the whole relationship. And giants just seem sort of cute and lumbering until they eat salamanders and breathe fire and destroy things for whatever reason. I mean really, do they have a particular reason? Can’t they just let things be on their territory without destroying them? Like can’t he just look at the lake and say, “okay, that lake is here on my property, it is mine now, I probably shouldn’t destroy it cause I’d rather own a lake than a burnt stretch of ground”? But who said faeries (dumb giants in particular) had to make sense? We’ve already proven that nixies don’t. And then there was this mystery creature that we had a brief glimpse of that I don’t recognise from the Guide. Pretty curious what that is. Hopefully we find out later. We also caught a glimpse of a sprite and saw some will-o’-the-wisps. Unfortunate tricky little buggers. Like most of faeriekind.
The end of this book took a dark turn as well. I get the feeling that this series, although shorter, is going to be a lot more brutal. I am glad to see new things happening with these faeries, and it’s fun as far as adventure goes, but I really hope these people get their crap together and stop being jerks. Kind of takes the fun out of it. What little fun there is to begin with, with the imminent danger and all.
reaction upon finishing
Ugh! People better straighten their stuff out!
this book in one word