When best friends Valerie and Samantha discover a magic mirror in Val’s 100-year-old barn in southern Minnesota, they eagerly go through it. Immediately they run into the young Snow White, who has just escaped the huntsman. The girls vow to help her find her father, knowing the dangers that await. On their journey, the fun-loving double-trouble duo quickly discover they are caught up in the middle of their favorite fairy tales.
Having the knowledge of the stories as their only weapon, Val and Sam help two other princesses, make a surprising friend and discover they have a fairy godmother of their very own.
It’s time for Samantha’s summer visit again. Both she and Val are anxious to see if they will take another magical journey through the mirror. After learning of a problem with one of the horses, Odette makes her appearance and tells the girls it’s up to them to help him.
What Charlie needs is something that can only be found in their magical land. It can’t be given to them; they have to solves riddles and discover the answers themselves. A family of elves guides them, but even elf powers are limited when it comes to what stands between the girls and what they seek.
Trolls and unicorns were everything they imagined and more, but rescuing Rapunzel from her tower was an added bonus they never saw coming.
Valerie and Samantha are disappointed that their schedules were not allowing them to spend a week together this summer like they have done every year since they were young. Their parents are able to plan a weekend camping trip towards the end of summer. The girls are happy for the visit, but sad to think they can’t go through the mirror this year on another adventure. They discover the magic is not only within the mirror, but within themselves when they are together. Merlin the magician shows up to take them on their quest to help Arthur find his true identity and his place in Camelot.
Now for my review. 5 of 5 stars. I loved Into the Forest and Down the Tower. I was so happy to follow Sam and Val again. They travel through the portal again and wonderful adventures ensue. Last time they encountered Snow White and this time…Rapunzel. This story was told quite a bit from Rapunzel’s point of view, which was quite interesting. Marcus the gnome also defers to Lily the elf. These differences help make Into the Forest it’s own unique story. As a animal lover, dogs in particular, I really enjoyed the focus on animals in this book. I love the many different animals in the story. Not only are they in the story, but Ms. Bugg does a wonderful job of bringing them to life with clever names and detailed descriptions. I love the idea of going out of your way to help our four-legged friends. Charlie (Val’s horse) reminds me a bit of my own dog when he is described as having been through so much in his previous homes he deserves to live out the remainder of his years being spoiled. I adopted my dog as a “senior” and the same is true with him.
What I liked best: I still love the personalities of Val and Sam. Their great imaginations are on display again. I loved the fun banter between the two, phrases like, “foul on the double-twister.” Marcus the gnome is mostly absent, but his stand-in Lily is even more involved in the story and she is quite a fire cracker. I loved her, her sharp wit, and defiant personality.
What missed just a bit: Not really anything to mention here.
Overall: I loved book 2. Val and Sam are adorable characters and I enjoy accompanying them on their journeys. It is the continuation of a wonderful tale that again captures the imagination as well as further develops our friendship with Val and Sam. It is an adorable tale, with wonderful characters and a very happy ending. Best of all is the ending, not only because it is a happy one (I don’t do well with sad endings) but because it truly ends. Whether this is the first or the last book one picks up in the Before Happily Ever After series (a terrible mistake if so, I must caution) it stands alone. My partner Sher wrote a post about cliffhangers here, and I agree. That’ s not the case with these books. Oh, I almost forgot the lovely lesson Ms. Bugg teaches about what makes a home is truly the people inside it, not what it looks like on the outside. Great story, great characters, valuable lessons, and a happy ending. Well done Ms. Bugg! I look forward to the next book in this series.
Print available to US only, Ebooks available Internationally
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