Esme’s Indie Highlights/SPFBO: Ballad of the Beanstalk

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This was part of Fantasy Book Critic’s group and has since been eliminated.



Clarion is a girl who lives on a farm with her mother after her fathers death, she helps her mom try to keep things going but the going is rough. Her mom insists on selling everything they have, everything from the pigs to her fathers harp, the last thing she has of his.

Clarion has a relationship with another girl from the town, Elana. It isn’t totally clear just how taboo it is to be homosexual in this world, but Elana does get a possible betrothal to a boy named Magnus and she’s not fighting it very hard because it seems to be the inevitable turn of events.

Clarion starts to develop feelings for this new betrothed boy, Magnus, even though he’s supposed to be involved with Elana, the girl she was in a relationship with. It gets rather complicated with all the different ties people have, there are a lot of characters introduced quickly.

A giant beanstalk appears after a dinner with the nobility of the area, and Clarion goes to investigate it. It’s coming out of the garden of the town witch, and extends all the way into the sky.

Magnus goes missing and people are starting to say that he ran away from the betrothal after being displeased at dinner, and that a search party needs to be sent out to go get him. No one but Clarion saw the beanstalk, and no one believes her when she talks about it.

Eventually, she does make it up into the cloud world with the giants, and that’s where most of the story really starts.

Final Score: 5/10


Clarion is the main character in the story, she’s young, pretty naive and doesn’t know what she wants from life yet. Her feelings over Elana are confused and she doesn’t know why she feels the way she does about Magnus. She still misses her dad a lot, and thinks about him frequently. Her relationship with her mother is very strained, especially after her mother suggests selling the harp for money.

Final Score: 5/10

World Building:

Jacosa is the town witch, and she has a lot of mysterious and unexplained powers. She can make potions that do just about anything.

The giants live up in the clouds, and Jacosa has apparently been taking people from the town up into the clouds for a long time

Jacosa has a potion that makes it possible for Clarion to be heard, and also for her to be able to understand the Giants. Without it, their speech is so low, and hers is so high they won’t be able to understand each other.

Giants can be shrunk down to ‘human’ size

There’s magical eggs and many of the same aspects from the old fairy tale

Final Score: 5/10


The pacing was a little slow at first, there were a lot of characters being introduced and I wasn’t sure who was going to be important or who the main character was. Once the main story started going and it was mostly Clarion, the giants, and Jacosa things picked up.

This was a much lighter toned book, def not violent or battle ridden.

There were a few spelling or grammar errors but not many.

Pacing Final Score: 6/10

Writing Final Score: 8/10


There were a lot of things used from the old stories, but there was also a lot of the authors own creation in this book.

You really do not see many fairy tale or folklore retellings anymore, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard of one involving Jack and the Beanstalk

Final Score: 8/10


  • For people who like fairy tales
  • For people who like female pov
  • For people who like romance
  • For people who like something different
  • For people who like simpler smaller scale stories

Final Total Score: 37/60 or 6.1/10 or 3 stars on goodreads


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