Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Spiderwick Chronicles: Book Four - The Ironwood Tree

The Spiderwick Chronicles: Book Four - The Ironwood Tree

Holly Black , Tony DiTerlizzi
Illustrator:   Tony DiTerlizzi 
Fiction  Series
For ages 7 to 10
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2004   ISBN: 978-0689859397

Mallory is facing her first real fencing challenge since the Grace family came to the Spiderwick Estate, and the twins and Mrs. Grace are going to her school to support her. Nothing strange has happened to the Grace children and their uncle?s "Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You" is still missing. Perhaps the attacks on them by the creatures of the Faerie world have stopped for good? In fact things have been so quite that it was almost as if none of their previous adventures had happened at all. Except of course, that they have a griffin in their garage still recuperating from an encounter with some goblins.

Then the nightmare begins and it is so strange that Jared wonders if he is losing his mind. While the fencing duels are taking place Jared sees that a boy is rummaging through Mallory's bag. On closer inspection he sees that the boy looks like Simon and yet "his" Simon is still sitting in the stands with their mother watching the fencing. Are their now two Simon's?

Jared goes to investigate and finds himself facing not a copy of Simon but a copy of himself. And yet, this copy is malevolent and clearly something from the Faerie world. To protect himself Jared pulls out his knife and then the Principal arrives. The Faerie creature, or shape-shifter, has in the meantime changed into a sorry looking little boy with blond hair. Now all the Principal sees is Jared threatening a terrified looking child. Jared is in the soup again and this time he knows he is in real trouble.

Then, to add to this already unpleasant situation, the twins discover out that Mallory is missing. Clues that they find and an ominous message written on a rock that says "TRADE" makes it clear that Mallory has been abducted by the Faerie creatures and that they will have to trade the Guide for Mallory to be able to get her back. There is a problem however; the Grace twins don't have the guide anymore.

The boys remember that the map they found some time ago had said that dwarves lived in the quarry that lies near the Spiderwick Estate. They are sure that the rock with the message on it was from the quarry as well. Clearly the quarry was where they had to go to find Mallory. What follows is a frightening and remarkable adventure in the world of the dwarves, under the ground and far from the reassuring light of day.

Once again Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi have produced a gripping, somewhat scary, installment in their story about Mallory, Jared, and Simon Grace. Wonderfully paced, and with new insights into the character of Jared, this book is hard to put down once one has begun to read it. At the end we are left hanging and with a definite understanding of what the Faerie creatures want. Unfortunately for the Grace children this desire sounds decidedly unpleasant.