Just a little under a month ago, Ann T. Bugg released her fifth book in the Happily Ever After series, which I mentioned in my last review features Jack of Beanstalk fame as one of the main characters.
In this installment, our heroes meet up at a fair and as they're poking around inside a hot air balloon's gondola, they're suddenly carried away to the fairylands. They end up above the clouds in the land of the giants and encounter Jack on his way down the beanstalk. The story moves from there, and also picks up the next leg of Snowlindra's (Snow White) adventures while hiding out from the evil witch. After all, the witch comes after her more than once before she gets that bright idea of poisoning an apple.
One of the things that I mentioned in my review of book 4 is that the beginning was pretty quick, the transition abrupt from the real world to the fairylands. In this book, the pacing was much more gradual, and there's a new element to the storytelling that I enjoyed even more: huge props to Bugg for the character development with Jack.
Jack's story, as usual with these books, is changed from the original. In order to get more of his adapted personality, he is fleshed out via different perspectives in the narrative. I found myself rooting for him and [redacted because spoilers] way more than I've rooted for couples in the previous books because I felt more connected to the characters.
Every time there's a new book, the girls have aged a year, so as they close in on the gap between their ages and the ages of the storybook characters, the relationships they have with them mature a little more. It was definitely the case with this book, where they're still quite younger than their lead companion (Jack), but now mature enough to handle some situations more gracefully and tactfully. It's subtle, but the signals are there.
Jack is a short read - I gobbled it up in just two sittings, and it was a refreshing in-between on my pile of TBR books. And technology is awesome: the author actually lent it to me on the Kindle, and it should be back in her library now. It's the first time I've read something using their lending system.
The next book in the series is titled Past the Fields Where All is Golden. I'm not sure who the companion is going to be for that book. But in an interesting twist of events, Samantha's kid brother is taken away and the girls go to the fairylands to rescue him.
Something about a city of gold. Maybe El Dorado? Anywho, I'm looking forward to it.