Official Summary: “Aliera Carstairs is back. This time she’s got her cousin—and best friend—Caroline in tow, and the stakes are higher than ever. The realm of Seelie, the fairy kingdom of which Aliera is the hereditary defender, is under attack, and only Aliera and Caroline can set things right. Caroline, fragile and wheelchair-bound, may seem like more of a liability than an asset, but Aliera knows there’s more to her quiet cousin than meets the eye. Curses! Foiled Again, a follow up to graphic novel Foiled! is Jane Yolen at her best, reunited with her partner in crime, the fabulously talented illustrator Mike Cavallaro.”
Curses! Foiled Again by Jane Yolen with illustrations by Mike Cavallaro picks up where Foiled left off. Aliera is still a high school student and still a world-class fencer, but now she also knows that she is the Defender, an inherited role that comes from the grandmother she never knew. She also knows that her lab partner isn’t just the new boy at school but is instead a troll who is now bound to her as her liege since she saved his life. But these are not destined to be the only changes that come to her life now that the trolls know that she is the Defender and that her practice foil is actually the hereditary sword of the Defender. But, when the Unseelie come after her and try to find her weaknesses, she has no choice other than to confront her new destiny and deal with the betrayal of those around her.
I greatly enjoyed Foiled, the first entry in this series, so I couldn’t wait to read this book. While I recently finished Foiled, I appreciated the way that Curses! Foiled Again refreshed readers about the events of that first book, in a way that makes it accessible to those who haven’t read Foiled and eases those who might not have read the first book in a while back into the story. After this brief recap, the book picks up the pace quickly and remains action-packed throughout the rest of the story. Aliera finds herself alone in many ways throughout the story. She isn’t sure whether she can trust Avery now that she knows that he is secretly a troll, but he refuses to leave her alone since she saved his life. She even feels a bit removed from her best friend and cousin Caroline since she can’t openly talk to her about the new aspects of her life. Over the course of the book, Aliera not only learns to trust her own instincts, but also reaches out to those around her.
This story will definitely please fans of the first book and will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end with its breakneck speed. The illustrations continue to add a lot to the story and the way that Cavallaro uses grayscale to distinguish the “real” world from the fairy world is still one of my favorite parts of the look of this series. Aliera’s character remains believable and relatable and the side characters were given a bit more of a chance to develop in this volume. I admit that I was a bit disappointed that Caroline didn’t feature more in the story given that the description made it sound as though she might, but I nevertheless enjoyed the book. I am looking forward to the next book in the series and would recommend the series to any fantasy or fencing fan.
Check it Out: Curses! Foiled Again is currently available.
Readalike: If you haven’t already read the first book in the series, Foiled, I definitely recommend starting with that one first. For another story of high school, try Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks or for another adventure story, try Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff.