Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: The Wyrm King
I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation. The book is Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: The Wyrm King by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi.
The best and worst thing about YA novels set in worlds where the magic is real is that the reader wants it to be true. Think about yourself when you were 8, 10 years old. You knew there were spirits in the trees, monsters under the bed, and your future husband in the mirror if you just knew the right words it would all be unlocked. That desire for it all to be real, that’s a longing so intense it’s hard to think of its equal I guess wanting to fly is finally replaced by wanting the cute guy in the back row of your algebra class. And the pain of ultimately letting go of that potential other world marks the end of innocence more than any bodily function ever could. Now, I suppose I still want it to be real I want to think fierce and beautiful creatures are battling in an unseen realm above my head, and that I might open a door and find an elf behind it, but I know I also have to pay my mortgage and go get my teeth cleaned and remember to empty the dishwasher and watch So You Think You Can Dance before I go to bed. The real drowns out the unreal, doesn’t it?
Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi have managed to keep the door of wonder open a crack, and their series of young adult books, The Spiderwick Chronicles, tell the story of kids who find the password to unlock the unreal while still living in a world with divorce, therapists and parents who are neither heroic nor wicked. There is room in this world for both nixies and math homework. In The Wyrm King, the conclusion of this long, long series, the kids have to face the fact that just because these creatures (mermaids! dragons!) are beautiful doesn’t necessarily make them good company, and the ecosystem of the unreal will continue with or without human intervention. In other words, what’s bad for mortals is just another day to giants and faeries.
Holly Black’s prose is precise and honest in its depiction of that teetering time before the adult world pushes out the realm of faerie. Tony DiTerlizzi’s gorgeous artwork is a reflection of the Victorian faerie art both of them love. Here are links to their work online:
And here is Tony’s drawing of the adorable Rat King, an inspiration for the Wyrm King: