Book Review: TILLY AND THE LOST FAIRYTALES by Anna James (Middle Grade Monday)

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: MG
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: Yes - second book

*SPOILER ALERT: contains SPOILERS for TILLY AND THE BOOKWANDERERS*

Synopsis:

Book cover for TILLY AND THE LOST FAIRYTALES: title in white above a girl surrounded by fairytale characters and swirling pages on blue

Tilly Pages is a bookwanderer; she can travel inside books, and even talk to the characters she meets there. But Tilly’s powers are put to the test when fairytales start leaking book magic and causing havoc . . . 

On a wintery visit to Paris, Tilly and her best friend Oskar bravely bookwander into the land of fairytales to find that characters are getting lost, stories are all mixed-up, and mysterious plot holes are opening without warning. Can Tilly work out who, or what, is behind the chaos so everyone gets their happily-ever-after?

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

TILLY AND THE LOST FAIRY TALES is a quick follow-up featuring fairy tales gone rogue as the bookwandering world is slowly dismantled. Princesses refusing to marry, Red Riding Hood teaching the woodsman, and snivelling princes are just some of the indications that something has gone desperately wrong in the world of bookwandering.

A large chunk of the book follows Tilly and Oskar as they travel through a book of fairy tales, bewildered by all the changes – and more than a little unnerved by the damages being wrought. There are lots of books written about fairy tale characters rebelling, but what set TILLY AND THE LOST FAIRY TALES apart was the horrible sense of the stories themselves were dying out. The corrosive blackness tearing apart stories was very unsettling (luckily this section is balanced out with a fair few light hearted moments as the fairy tales collide and Rapunzel’s no-nonsense approach got a few laughs from me).

I liked that there was not only the magical damage happening to the books themselves but also a look at how the scared librarians, reacting to the events of the first book, are imposing all sorts of rules that are damaging the practice. It was an interesting way to explore how we can sometimes cause the destruction of the things we hold dear in an attempt to protect them.

A portion of this book takes place in Paris, and it was fun to see another country’s view on bookwandering – no matter how short the section. I would have loved some more time there, to really explore the different approaches. Instead, it felt a little rushed – like the meeting was there to provide enough evidence for Tilly (etc) to make a connection needed to start the third book.

There is a third book coming out soon, which I think is the end of the currently planned series? Either way, the bookwanderers looks like they will be globetrotting over to America next!


Read my reviews of other books by Anna James:

Pages & Co. (this series):

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