The Crystal Palace III: The Fairy War
by Michele Hauser
Westwood Books Publishing LLC

"The insects were coming, no doubt about it. Everyone was nervous, but all were in their places. They had been trained; they were ready."

Karina, Katie, and Nicole are eager to return to Fairyland but have not been summoned the way they were previously. Eager to find a way to see their friends again, they begin to look for ways to make contact until they meet an elf who agrees to pass along the message. Transported once more to Fairyland, the trio of girls find a peaceful scene as their introduction of the Magna Carta to the minuscule magical realm led to equal opportunities for virtually all of the creatures living there. However, not all is well: The Sorcerer and the Captain of the Guard are plotting against the human girls who have become the king’s new trusted guides. Worse still, the insects that populate the kingdom are plotting an uprising to get revenge on both the fairy folk and the human world.

Things become more complicated when Katie falls in love with a young fairy boy and decides that she would be happier as a fairy herself. Turning to the Sorcerer for help, she is transformed into a fairy with the intention of staying in Fairyland forever. Karina and Nicole are trying to talk sense into their friend when the insect insurrection begins, razing buildings and capturing or killing any resident of Fairyland with the misfortune of being left out in the open. Unprepared to defend their kingdom without the aid of the Sorcerer, it appears as though Fairyland’s peaceful reign will shortly come to an end. What started out as a peaceful trip to a magical world ends up requiring the quick thinking and resourcefulness of Karina, Katie, and Nicole to survive and save their friends.

Longtime readers of the previous books in this series will be delighted to discover a new chapter of adventures for Karina and her friends. New readers may be a bit confused over some of the details at first, but the author does an admirable job of keeping the details of the first two stories fresh without slowing the story down to a crawl. The book builds up to the big battles toward the end but has plenty of minor dilemmas and dramatic revelations to keep the reader interested and invested. The descriptions of the environments offer lots for fantasy fans, particularly those with an interest in fairies, elves, or crystals. Written with younger readers in mind, the book’s handling of topics like bullying and romance is performed delicately but with a definite authenticity.

Jealousy plays a prominent role in the motivations for much of this story’s conflict. Whether it’s the Sorcerer feeling like his guidance has been replaced, or the insects being tired of being treated as second-class citizens of Fairyland, or even Katie’s perception that her friends don’t have her best interests in mind in asking her to become human again, jealous feelings and miscommunications move the story forward. Children can learn a lot about properly talking about their feelings or understanding how their needs fit into their circle of friends, the family unit, or even society at large. Opportunities for learning aside, this story succeeds as a fantastic journey from start to finish, offering lots of familiar faces for fans of the characters or a fun and mysterious quest for new readers. Perfect for a young audience or fantasy fans of any age with a fondness for fairies, this story concludes the Crystal Palace series with a high-stakes conflict and plenty of both action and heart.

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