The story begins with a letter to the authors (Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black) from the Grace children – Mallory, Jared, and Simon. They speak of having found a mysterious old book – a field guide that has given them a vision into an even more mysterious world filled with all kinds of creatures – creatures that they had previously thought existed only in fairy tales and fantasies. Some of these are kindly, others mischievous, while others are quite malevolent. The books (there are a total of five in the set) are the story of the adventures and dangers the Grace children face as they learn to navigate amongst them and attempt to save humans from the threat that exists in this unseen world within our world.
The Grace children are interesting and engaging personalities, easy to identify with and likable. Some of the other characters (Aunt Lucinda was a personal favorite!) and creatures they encounter are quite endearing too. The story flows well and the reading is easy; I finished all five of the books in a day. There are a total of 672 pages in the set, but the pages are small and the font is a little larger than most. This, coupled with an abundance of illustrations, makes them go quickly. (My best guesstimate of the number of pages of actual normal print would be about one third that number - 225 pages.)
I am glad I've read the books. I enjoy well-written fantasy. The illustrations are wonderfully done and the storyline shows considerable imagination. It is a bit predictable at times, but it is written for children after all. The Spiderwick Chronicles would be fun to read with or to children. Having said this, I don't believe they are books for all children. If a child has difficulty separating reality and the imaginary, I believe the vivid images they present could be frightening for them. As for me, when I went to bed that night, I just pulled the covers a little higher and made sure that my hands didn't fall over the side of the bed as I slept. :-)