I am sad that this series is over, but it ends in such a satisfying way. I do think that this series is required reading for those who like fairy tales and especially clever retellings. Each volume ups the ante on the grim aspect of fairy tales. Each book seems less appropriate for a younger audience. I'm torn on that. Mr. Gidwitz is obviously a teacher, and he understands the young minds he writes for. I mean, he has to in order to teach them. I'm going to trust that he knows what they can handle, but my personal limit would be 12 or older for these books. There is way too much dark violence and subject matter for kiddos younger than twelve, to my thinking. Also, the cruelty of adults against children in this book is highly disturbing.
I also think this is the saddest out of the series. Wow, the things that our young protagonists are faced with really tore at my heart. And how the cruelty and neglect they experienced warped something inside of them. Gidwitz deals with the psychology of abused/neglected children in a poignant way without getting too soapboxy.
There are some great life lessons here. Family, loyalty, honor, integrity, kindness, and making moral decisions. These kids have to raise themselves and that leads to some issues when they are faced with adult moral decisions. Along the way they make mistakes and have to learn from them and 'face the music.'
This book breaks the 4th wall in a way that the other ones in the series did not. At first, I really didn't like that about the book, but then I saw how integral it was to the story. It was also good because Gidwitz doesn't follow the predictable pattern I expected.
Johnny Heller truly is an awesome narrator. If he didn't win an award for narrating this series, then he was cheated. He deserves it. He was all in, and you would have to wonder how he didn't get emotionally affected by this book as he read. Not just in horror or sadness, but in hilarity, because this book involves all those emotions.
I am biased. I love fairy tales a lot. Yet, I think that increases my standards for fairy tale retellings. Gidwitz is a writer who clearly loves fairy tales just as much as I do, if not more. He respects the genre, and it clearly is a huge creative influence on him in crafting these marvelous books that add very much to the cultural relevance of fairy tales.
If you have not checked these out and you like fairy tales, what are you waiting for?