My rating: 4 of 5 stars
With the final book in the quadrilogy that is The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, I was surprised just how this got to me considering I wasn’t convinced at first.
‘Talking to Dragons’ presents very differently to the previous three books; not a surprise in some ways considering this was the original story to be written and published. Wrede was persuaded later to turn this into a series and she decided to write the back story. This is the only one of the four which is written in first person – the story is told from the point of view of Cimorene’s teenage son, Daystar -and is slightly odd in that we are presented with characters we know and love as though ‘new’ (which, of course, they were when the book was originally published).
Initially then, I didn’t feel I was going to like this. I was less than convinced with the third book and felt the plot ending a little contrived. As ‘Talking with Dragons’ is also the longest of the series, I thought this was going to be a bit of a hard slog to plough through.
Then, somehow, I found myself halfway through the book in something of an instant. “How did that happen?” I asked myself, and felt a little bit of a panic. While it was a jarring oddity how the book started, still it had all those characters I’d enjoyed for the last three books. By the time I reached I the three-quarter mark, I was both delighted with the story and saddened by the impending final page. There would be no more Cimorene, no more Kazul, nor any of the others. Cue upside down face.
The series may lack the intense excitement and sense of ‘adultness’ of the Harry Potter stories, but for a younger audience who enjoy jolly escapades, this is a really lovable set of books. If you’re wanting to introduce your eight-year-old to fantasy but feel Rowling or Tolkien is just not going to be appropriate yet, then the Enchanted Forest Chronicles is perfect. There’s nothing harmful or offensive in any of the books; just excitement and lots of fun.
Now I’m left wondering what to do to replace these adventures I’ve so enjoyed a second time around. In my review of the first book ‘Dealing with Dragons’, I referenced reading these books to my children when we lived in Bangladesh and they were very young. They are grown up and live in their own homes now and the nest is relatively empty (though not quite as much as it should be – the little birds keep coming back to steal the worms and nesting material). Reading the Enchanted Forest Chronicles allowed me to go back to a time when I was a younger man, the kids found everything exciting and princesses could live with dragons. If only we could keep that forever…
Social Entrepreneur, educationalist, bestselling author and journalist, D K Powell is the author of the bestselling collection of literary short stories “The Old Man on the Beach“. His first book, ‘Sonali’ is a photo-memoir journal of life in Bangladesh and has been highly praised by the Bangladeshi diaspora worldwide. Students learning the Bengali language have also valued the English/Bengali translations on every page. Listen to his life story in interview with the BBC here.
His latest book is ‘Try not to Laugh’ and is a guide to memorising, revising and passing exams for students.
D K Powell is available to speak at events (see his TEDx talk here) and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, he is available for one-to-one mentoring and runs a course on the psychology of writing.
Ken writes for a number of publications around the world. Past reviewer for Paste magazine, The Doughnut, E2D and United Airways, and currently reviews for Lancashire Life magazine and Northern Arts Review.