Book Review: the Spiderwick Chronicles: the Wrath of Mulgarath by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black

This is the fifth and final book in the Spiderwick Chronicles, which is the Spiderwick Chronicles: the Wrath of Mulgarath (Young Adult 137 pages) by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black.

“Three ordinary kids, Jared, Simon, and Mallory Grace, have entered another world – without leaving this one! Two remarkable talents, New York Times best-sellers Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, have risked everything to bring this remarkable account to light. Five books – one thrilling adventure – the Spiderwick Chronicles! Their world is closer than you think.”

In the first book, Jared, Simon, and Mallory Grace move to an old house with a secret library and encounter a boggart. The boggart makes things a little uncomfortable for them and they wind up making amends and learning about a Field Guide written by a relative named Arthur Spiderwick.

In the second book, Simon gets snatched by a group of goblins and Jared and Mallory work to find him and rescue him. Along the way, Jared’s temper gets the better of him again and he winds up being a bit mean to Thimbletack when Thimbletack tries to help them out against the goblins. When Jared and Mallory find Simon, they also rescue a hobgoblin named Hogssqueel who assists with their escape and provides them with goblin spit, which gives them the ability to see the fairy world without use of the Seeing Stone.

The third book shows Mallory, Simon, and especially Jared dealing with increasing pranks around the house. Jared believes the pranks are perpetrated by Thimbletack, who Jared was extremely rough with in book two. In order to attempt to figure out how to stop the pranks and to get more information on Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide, Mallory, Simon, and Jared visit their Great Aunt Lucinda in the hospital. As it turns out, Lucinda is Arthur’s daughter and she is in the hospital because she was having problems with the faeries entering the house and causing her bodily harm while asking about the book. Even though she had no knowledge of the Field Guide, the faeries didn’t believe her and continued to escalate their personal attacks. Lucinda also made the mistake when she was younger of eating a piece of fairy food and can now no longer enjoy or even stomach normal food. The third book ended with Jared, Simon, and Mallory finding the elf forest and tricking them into releasing the Grace youths out of the forest.

The fourth book takes a much darker turn, as Simon, Jared, and Mallory find themselves captives of the dwarves. The fourth book ends with Mallory, Simon, and Jared barely escaping the dwarf tunnels only to witness the dwarves provide Mulgarath, the big bad guy of the whole series, with more weapons and such. Mulgarath then has all the dwarves killed by the goblins while they march a human-sized prisoner away.

This book was obviously intended for a very young audience, as the story-telling is very quick and lyrical with short, descriptive paragraphs. There’s also a selection of character portraits and drawings from the story itself, which gives the book something of a classic feel with a map in the front and continued drawings throughout the story. I liked the drawings and felt that they added a good visual depiction of the characters and events, but I learned to not look at the pictures until after I’d read all the words on open pages because the pictures gave away some of the upcoming plot or character elements in each part of the story. One of the interesting things about this series to me is that I often feel as though the faery characters described in each book so far are not exactly like the “normal” or “standard” options. The brownies, boggarts, phooka, elves, sprites, trolls, and goblins are so far mostly unique in their interactions in the Spiderwick Chronicles versus the descriptions of faery characteristics in other works.

This book starts out is a very odd place for me because Jared, Mallory, and Simon walk home after their ordeal with the dwarves, but their mom is the one who drove them all there. Why wouldn’t they first check the parking lot of the school? What kind of parent would take all that time and energy to drive all three of their children to a school fencing match and leave them there? Most parents I know would have search parties and such or not leave without their kids. So the fact that Mallory, Simon, and Jared feel as though they should walk home and not look for their mom is so weird to me.

I don’t really want to give away the climatic parts of this portion of the story, which is pretty much the whole book, so I will leave this review with just my overall summary and thoughts.

Overall, I liked the characters and the world-building is interesting. These are really quick reads and I like reading them when I have an hour to spare, since that’s how long it usually takes me to get through them. I think this book is a low three on my scale, since they’re tons of fun for a quick read, but designed for a much younger audience.

Works cited: DiTerlizzi, Tony and Black, Holly. The Spiderwick Chronicles: the Wrath of Mulgarath. New York: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2004.

About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
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