Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Book Review: Freddie's Shadow Cards (Disney Descendants: School of Secrets #2)

Release Date: October 25, 2016
Author: Jessica Brody
Publisher: Disney Press
Length: 192 pages
Source: Library Book

The School of Secrets series of chapter books continues the story of Mal and her friends, plus new Villain kids and Auradon kids introduced in the popular Wicked World short form videos. Enjoy these all-new tales of mystery, magic and adventure from the world of the hit movie Descendants!

Freddie is the daughter of the infamous witch doctor, Dr. Facilier.

She's got voodoo in her blood, a deck of Shadow Cards in her hands, and a song in her villain-kid heart.When Freddie's dreams of joining the acapella group at Auradon Prep fall apart, she uses her Shadow Cards to get her way...But dark magic always comes with a price.



Protagonist: Coming off the end of CJ's Treasure Chase, Freddie wants to make a name for herself in Auradon as a jazz singer, and the best way to do that is apparently to join an acapella group? Yeah, I understand the experience would be good for her and help get her name out there, but it felt a bit of a stretch. Anyway, after a less than stellar auditions experience, Freddie would do just about anything to get her shot on the acapella team. Enter her shadow cards. These are cards her father gave her on her tenth birthday that she's just recently rediscovered. Could this be just what she needs? Freddie's adventures with her shadow cards lead her on a voyage of self-discovery that will show her where she belongs. I really liked Freddie's character development in this story. She isn't as evil and villainous as CJ was at the start of her adventure, but she's a long way from a hero and her journey in this story really helps to liven things up because this story doesn't leave Auradon Prep for very long.

World Building: Honestly, the world building in this story wasn't the best. Don't get me wrong, I did really enjoy all of the facets of this world that we did get to see. However, I had thought/hoped this series would entail adventuring across the United States of Auradon and seeing the various kingdom states that make up the land. This story is, however, far more character driven. Freddie is, of course, the main driving force, but she does have some burgeoning friendships. These friendships were a fun treat to see develop over the course of the book. Most of the time with this world characters seem to either be friends or not, and the road to a real friendship is either skipped over or fast tracked as to not get in the way of the plot. However, in this story, Freddie's unlikely friendships are a fantastic subplot that helps drive the main story along at a fun and dare I say addicting pace. We do get to see the world outside Auradon Prep, and even get to do some old fashioned adventuring, however, it doesn't last all that long and while these characters do meet a new AK along the way, the need for that character wasn't all that strong, to begin with and the out of place character sort of detracted from the story just a small bit.

Predictability: Honestly, I have to say this story was fairly unpredictable. However, that's mostly because this wasn't the story I expected and while I could see some small vague story points coming, the specifics really caught me off guard. I really did enjoy all of the little surprises this story had in store. There's a theme of magic coming with a price in this story and how that plays out was really the most surprising part of the story to me, and how that entire thing is resolved, while not exactly surprising, was a great element to the story and I was awed by how much I enjoyed that bit of resolution.

Ending: As for the ending, I was hoping this story would end in a way that wasn't too idealistic since I've seen that can be a trope for books aimed at a younger audience. The ending starts out very well, as the resolution isn't something that would be achieved easily, and there is some real work that needs to be put into things to even hope for a happy ending. That being said though, even though there's some effort needed to get to where Freddie is in the end, things still felt a bit too easily resolved and things ended just a bit too idealistically.


While I did enjoy this short adventure, it wasn't as exciting as the previous one, and even though Freddie's character development was extremely compelling, things just turned out a bit too idealistically. That being said I'm still looking forward to reading more in this hard to piece together canon.


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