Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Book Review: Jaqlyn and the Beanstalk by Mary Ting

Jaclyn and the Beanstalk

by Mary Ting

Published by: Vesuvian Books

Publication date: September 4th 2018

Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult


What fate awaits a girl who hears monsters at night… 

Sixteen-year-old Jaclyn looks up to her father. An honest man who once fought for the king, he now teaches Jaclyn how to use her wits—and her sword.

But he has a secret. And his secret may have a connection to the one thing Jaclyn is hiding from him. 

Upon hearing “monsters” are terrorizing the small villages around Black Mountain, Jaclyn’s father and his friends head out to hunt them … but they don’t return.

Armed only with her sword and three magic beans—a gift from a mysterious old woman—Jaclyn sets out for Black Mountain to save her father. 

On her climb, one bean drops and grows into a beanstalk, catching her when she falls.

She isn’t the only one that takes the ride. Jack, her childhood friend and secret crush, is following her. 

Together, Jaclyn and Jack must battle to save not only their fathers, but the townspeople the beasts plan to lay waste to before it’s too late.

My Review

4 of 5 Stars

Fans of fairy tale retellings like Snow White and the Huntsman will love Mary Ting's gender-bent Jaqlyn and the Beanstalk. Not only do we have a believable heroine in Jaqlyn, who prefers trousers to skirts and sword practice to needlework, thank you very much. But our heroine's loyalty to her family, especially her heroic father, lay the groundwork for one epic quest.

From the beginning, Jaqlyn is plagued by nightmares of demons. She attempts to lighten her dark thoughts by entertaining her family with made-up fairy tales. Never could she imagine the fairy tales are real, or her role in the coming challenges. Ting grounds her novel in the distant and fixed past, a time of deeply rooted religion and sinister superstitions. Life in her woodland home with only her mother and father for company is enough to satisfy Jaqlyn, who has no intentions to marry, only live a free and happy life. Until she stumbles upon a mysterious weapon hidden in the barn and begins to unravel her parents' pasts. Here is where Jaqlyn's journey truly begins.

Before you start to wonder about the original Jack, of former beanstalk fame, never fear. Jack and Jaqlyn grew up together, but haven't seen each other since they were children. I loved how Ting brought familiar elements and characters like Jack and the beans and crafted something more exciting and fresh. Forget everything you think you know about giants and giant slayers. Prepare to enter a mythic past of epic proportions, led by a girl who is much more than she appears. Her heart and faith will see her through to the end, but a little skill with blade and lance can't hurt. ;)

Author Bio

International Bestselling Author Mary Ting/M. Clarke resides in Southern California with her husband and two children. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry. Writing her first novel, Crossroads Saga, happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother, and inspired by a dream she once had as a young girl. When she started reading new adult novels, she fell in love with the genre. It was the reason she had to write one-Something Great. Why the pen name, M Clarke? She tours with Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children's chapter book-No Bullies Allowed. 




  1. This sounds like a real entertaining, fun read! Great review, Jennifer!

    1. Thanks Giselle, I really enjoyed this! It was like a mash up of my favorite genre elements :)

  2. Hallo, Hallo Ms Silverwood!

    What happy serendipity! I hadn't realised we had twinned on when we posted reflections on behalf of this novel - yours for having read it, mine for the curiosity it percolates in my mind! OOh I was right then! You're prime to dig into The Lost Queen - as I've been dearly enjoying my time spent observing how Merlin's twin sister appreciates the same - warrior training and other activities not generally befitting a 'girl'. Honestly - for a girl who was a tomboy and quite athletic you think the gender roles and stereotypes wouldn't be so narrowing these days... good thing we have wicked strong fictional heroines!

    I love how your reflections open up the curiosities of the text but give the illusion still of what we can each find within the chapters! Sounds lovely I was right in thinking this would be a brilliant #mustread for me! You've confirmed what drew me into the premise and what I had hoped to get out of reading it! Eek. So happy we shared mutual admiration for 'Jaclyn and the Beanstalk' - something tells me we share quote a lot in common overall in our bookish pursuits!

    1. Hey Jorie :D
      I was reading more on The Lost Queen and it sounds exactly like the kind of read I love. Love when authors mix historical fiction with fantasy elements. And as you know, I'm a big fan of Arthurian stories ;)

      Also thanks for the compliment on the review! I like to tease the reader a bit if I can, but also share what I feel my fellow fairy tale fans will enjoy.

      Looking forward to sharing more of the bookish journey with you, friend :)

  3. Replies
    1. Yes, me too, that's one of the things that drew me to this book in the first place. It really is an interesting take on the story and surprised me in a good way :)