MCPL logo

Marathon County Public Library

Skip Navigation

Staff Reviews: Children's fantasy

Check out these reviews written by the staff of the Marathon County Public Library, featuring books and DVDs for children! (For reviews of books for all ages, visit our main Staff Reviews webpage.) Staff book reviews are also published at Goodreads.com; follow us for the latest updates. The book reviews on this website represent the personal opinions of the individuals who created them and do not represent any official views of the Marathon County Public Library.


Cover: 'No Such Thing As Dragons'

"No Such Thing As Dragons" by Philip Reeve

★★★★★ Ten-year-old Ansel, a mute boy, is sold by his father to Brock, a self-proclaimed dragon slayer who needs someone who will keep his secrets safe. They travel town to town on horseback searching for food and shelter in exchange for protecting villagers from dragons. In Drachenberg, his master accepts a quest to climb the steep mountain and rid the village...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Valiant'

"Valiant" by Sarah Mc Guire

★★★★★ After her mother’s death, Saville’s father, who is a tailor more in love with his precious material than his family, moves them to a small, gloomy, dirty shop in the city of Reggen. Soon after, her father suffers what appears to be a massive stroke, leaving him bedridden and Saville with the responsibility for his care as well as their livelihood. Despising...

Audience: children | Genre: fantasy

Cover: 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child'

"Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" by J. K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany

★★★★★ Taking place 19 years after the events of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," Harry Potter and his wife, Ginny, are happily raising their kids James, Albus, and Lily. Harry, the head of Magical Law Enforcement, finds it hard to connect with Albus, who leaves for his first year at Hogwarts as the story begins. Over the next few years, Albus becomes an...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Door By the Staircase'

"The Door By the Staircase" by Katherine Marsh, Kelly Murphy

★★★★★ Twelve-year-old Mary Hayes is miserable. She is so miserable that she attempts an escape up the small, sooty stovepipe from the Buffalo Asylum for Young Ladies, where, as an older child, there’s literally no chance of getting adopted, especially when the head mistress dislikes you. So when an old woman with a big nose, Madame Z, shows up to adopt her, she’s...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle'

"The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle" by Janet Fox

★★★★★ Amid warnings from the train stationmaster about Rookskill Castle in Scotland being peculiar, haunted, with grinding and screeching noises and rumors of kids disappearing, the Bateson children, Katherine (Kat), Robbie, Amelie, and Peter, an American boy, proceed to the castle anyway. Actually, what choice do they have? They’re kids who are sent to this...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Wrinkled Crown'

"The Wrinkled Crown" by Anne Nesbet

★★★★ Linny’s twelfth birthday is fast approaching and she’s being watched and protected even more than usual, lest she fall victim to an ancient curse. She is forbidden to touch a lourka instrument, but the call of music and the lourka is so irresistible that she secretly builds one. When she is compelled to play it on the eve of her birthday, her best friend...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: The Illustrated Edition'

"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: The Illustrated Edition" by J. K. Rowling, Jim Kay

★★★★★ For fans of the Harry Potter series, this beautiful new release of the first book in the beloved series is a must read! With full color illustrations at least every few pages, this is a new, fantastic way to read the book that brought us the magical world J.K. Rowling created. Perfect for devoted fans, this version is also great for those looking for a more...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'My Diary from the Edge of the World'

"My Diary from the Edge of the World" by Jodi Lynn Anderson

★★★★★ Gracie Lockwood lives in Cliffden, Maine, an ordinary enough sounding city, but it is anything but ordinary. Her world is populated with flying dragons, sasquatches, giants, mermaids, witches and angels. Gracie loves her home, but when the dreaded Dark Cloud begins hanging around, apparently in search of her sickly brother Sam, her family flees in a...

Audience: children, teens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Blackthorn Key'

"The Blackthorn Key" by Kevin Sands

★★★★★ An orphan, Christopher Rowe feels lucky to be chosen as an apprentice to Master Benedict Blackthorn, a great and kind apothecary. In order to keep recipes for his medicines and potions secret, his master uses complex codes and puzzles which Christopher is being taught to decipher. But when his master is brutally killed and a strange cult appears to be...

Audience: children, teens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Castle Hangnail'

"Castle Hangnail" by Ursula Vernon

★★★★ The minions at Castle Hangnail are desperate. In order to keep the castle they love they need a new master for magic and evil responsibilities or the Board of Magic will force closure. But when Molly, who is short and barely 12-years-old, shows up on their doorstep and claims to be a wicked witch, they are doubtful she’s the real thing. While she’s trying...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'One Witch at a Time'

"One Witch at a Time" by Stacy DeKeyser

★★★★ Loosely based on the fairytale “Jack and the Beanstalk”, the trouble begins when 13 year old Rudi is sent to market with Susanna to trade dairy products for meat and grain and possibly sell a cow. Susanna, in an effort to help him, sells one of his cows for some allegedly magic beans. It turns out that the beans were stolen from a witch in the neighboring...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans'

"A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans" by Laurence Yep

★★★★ Just two days after the funeral of her pet human, Fluffy (a.k.a. Amelia), a young girl named Winnie bursts into mournful Miss Drakes’s secret door in the basement proclaiming that she has been sent by her great-aunt Amelia so Miss Drake won't be lonely. Almost immediately, Miss Drake, who happens to be a dragon, theorizes that this seemingly obnoxious small...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Witch's Boy'

"The Witch's Boy" by Kelly Barnhill

★★★★★ Ned’s father could only save one of his identical twin sons from drowning, but the people in the village agree that he saved the wrong boy. Ned is unsure of himself and stammers, yet when the Bandit King threatens to steal the magic his mother, Sister Witch, has spent her life protecting, he finds a courage he didn’t know he had.  Crossing the...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy, paranormal

Cover: 'Beyond the Laughing Sky'

"Beyond the Laughing Sky" by Michelle Cuevas

★★★★ In this rather unusual tale a young couple, whose house is perched in a large pecan tree, discover a baby in a cracked egg from a bird’s nest on the sidewalk.  This human-looking baby has feathers for hair and no mouth or nose but in its place a beak. His adopted parents, sister, and the small community of Goosepimple adapt to life with him, but as he...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Greenglass House'

"Greenglass House" by Kate Milford

★★★★ The old historic, creaky smugglers’ inn called Greenglass House sits high on a hill requiring guests to take a trolley type of car that gets pulled to the top. It is winter, close to the holidays, and usually free of guests so Milo, the adopted son of the innkeepers, is looking forward to a relaxing vacation. But unexpectedly the buzzer for the trolley car...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Nightmares!'

"Nightmares!" by Jason Segel

★★★★ Twelve-year-old Charlie Laird has big problems. His mom died, his dad remarried, and now together with his younger brother Jack they must move into his new "stepmonster’s" (that’s what he calls her) odd-looking purple mansion with a tower. Positive that his new "stepmonster" is a witch, he barricades himself inside his new bedroom where he can’t sleep...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Thickety: A Path Begins'

"The Thickety: A Path Begins" by J. A. White, Andrea Offermann

★★★★★ Witchcraft and magic are denounced as evil, feared and banned on this island colony that is surrounded by a strange forbidden forest with feared creatures known as the Dark Wood or Thickety.  At only 5 years old Kara along with her newborn brother Taff witness the hanging death of their mother who was proclaimed a witch and their lives radically change...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Forbidden Library'

"The Forbidden Library" by Django Wexler

★★★★★ After overhearing an insect-like black fairy in the kitchen arguing with her father, Alice is informed that her father is dead and she is ordered to go and live with Geryon, an unknown uncle who has a massive library which she is forbidden to enter and also not to read any books inside it. Ashes, a talking cat who admits to being only half a cat, sneaks her...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Hook's Revenge'

"Hook's Revenge" by Heidi Schulz

★★★★★ Jocelyn has piracy and adventure in her blood so why did her grandfather send her to an all-too-pink finishing school for girls? Because she is the daughter of the notorious pirate Captain James Hook, that’s why. After receiving a posthumous letter from her father requesting her to avenge his death and destroy the infamous crocodile that took his life,...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Witch's Boy'

"The Witch's Boy" by Kelly Barnhill

★★★★★ Ned and his parents live in a small village at the edge of a dark and mysterious wood. His mother is a witch and his father is a woodcutter. Ned has never been the same since the day his twin brother died and he lived. He never speaks, and if he does, it is with a terrible stutter. The villagers all make fun of him and think him useless. The only thing the...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy, paranormal

Cover: 'Dragon on Trial'

"Dragon on Trial" by Tui T. Sutherland, Kari Sutherland

★★★ After rescuing a griffin in the first book, ”The Menagerie”, Logan is officially accepted as a member of the secret menagerie that cares for mythical creatures. This time the crisis involves the disappearance and presumed murder of Pelly, the goose who lays the golden eggs. Snatch, a dragon in the menagerie, is blamed, but Logan and his friend Zoe are sure...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Castle Behind Thorns'

"The Castle Behind Thorns" by Merrie Haskell

★★★★★ Waking up in the fireplace ashes of an unfamiliar and very broken castle, Sand discovers that nothing lives here, except the huge, dense thorny brambles that enclose the whole exterior, making it impossible to leave. He begins mending broken objects and soon discovers Perrotte, a girl his age and heir to the castle who has awakened from the dead. They...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Girl with the Silver Eyes'

"The Girl with the Silver Eyes" by Willo Davis Roberts

★★★★★ Ten-year-old Katie Welker knows that she’s different in more ways than just having those unusual silver eyes which freak other people out. She can move things just by thinking about them and read the minds of cats, but what else might she be capable of.  After she discovers that her mother took a drug while she was pregnant that was later removed from...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Real Boy'

"The Real Boy" by Anne Ursu

★★★★★ The massive walls around the protected island city of Asteri writhe with enchantment.  The wizards’ powerful magic protects the city from illness and harm.  A devastating worldwide plague many years ago killed numerous people from the island. “The boy”, Oscar, works as a lowly “Hand” for Caleb, the most powerful magician in the city. His job is to...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy'

"Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy" by Karen Foxlee

★★★★★ Opehlia Jane Worthington-Whittard is an extraordinary 11 year old girl; she just doesn’t know it yet.  Accepting a last-minute job offer to curate a sword exhibit at a museum in a foreign city, Ophelia’s father believes that this is just the change of scenery his daughters need after the recent death of their mother.  The plan is for Ophelia and...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Pages