You or someone in your family have probably experienced the excited anticipation when the next book in in a beloved series is released. The same goes for the main character in NEVER AFTER, Filomena Jefferson-Cho. She joins the mob of other readers waiting to buy the 13th book of her favorite epic page turner. Not so fast—the book’s release was cancelled. The story takes a fantasy turn from there as Filomena discovers the world of Never After and fiction becomes reality.

Here’s the official scoop from Macmillan’s Roaring Brook Press imprint:

Nothing ever happens in Filomena Jefferson-Cho’s sleepy little suburban town of North Pasadena. The sun shines every day, the grass is always a perfect green, and while her progressive school swears there’s no such thing as bullying, she still feels bummed out. But one day, when Filomena is walking home on her own, something strange happens.

Filomena is being followed by Jack Stalker, one of the heroes in the Thirteenth Fairy, a series of books she loves about a brave girl and her ragtag group of friends who save their world from an evil enchantress. She must be dreaming, or still reading a book. But Jack is insistent—he’s real, the stories are real, and Filomena must come with him at once!

Soon, Filomena is thrust into the world of evil fairies and beautiful princesses, sorcerers and slayers, where an evil queen drives her ruthless armies to destroy what is left of the Fairy tribes. To save herself and the kingdom of Westphalia, Filomena must find the truth behind the fairytales and set the world back to rights before the cycle of sleep and destruction begins once more.

The enticing story line will please fantasy readers with modern day Pasadena, California becoming a portal to the magical and scary setting Filomena has experienced in the books. Actually, the portal is near the iconic HOLLYWOOD sign—an ideal spot to connect these two worlds.

Soon she becomes friends with two young fairy tale characters, Jack and Alistair. They become a fun, endearing threesome who strive to figure out each other’s past. It’s easier for Filomena as she knows these characters better than she knows herself. One other secondary character I could have done without—the fashion and makeup obsessed Gretel. Maybe she’ll become more likeable as the Never After series continues. A new adventure is laid out in the final page of this one.


READ an excerpt from Chapter one here


  1. My favorite character was the amusing Alistair. You’ll never guess who this young boy turns out to be, although you’ll certainly know his familiar Fairy Tale name.
  2. Bullies seem like a required component in MG books. No different here—There’s a whole group of them at Filomena’s school taunting her every day. They also have a hidden identity and it couldn’t be more fitting.
  3. Backstory is revealed through numerous prologues scattered throughout the pages. It works quite well to reveal how this whole crisis and Filomena’s adoption occurred.
  4. The twists are plentiful and although they are overcome almost too quick, each provides a push toward the plot’s resolution.
  5. Many childhood classic characters make an appearance including the Three Little Pigs and Aladdin. I smiled at seeing them here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (From Melissa’s author web site)

MELISSA DE LA CRUZ is the #1 New York Times, #1 Publisher’s Weekly and #1 Indie Bound bestselling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for readers of all ages, and edited the inspiring anthology of true stories, Because I Was a Girl. She grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. At Columbia University, she majored in art history and English. Melissa de la Cruz lives in West Hollywood with her husband and daughter.


I received an ARC for my honest review. I welcome comments below.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, New Release and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to NEVER AFTER

  1. I actually just saw this book on my Insta feed and added it to my tbr. So, to see your post so soon after seems like an omen 🤔

  2. I have this on reserve at the library. Now that I read your review, I’m even more excited to read it. And congrats on three years of hosting MMGM.

  3. schmelzb says:

    Yeah, 3 years, Greg! This fantasy looks fantastic. Better than some I have tried.

  4. I don’t read a lot of fantasy, but I do like portal stories. This sounds like a lot of fun. Thanks for the heads up.

  5. This certainly is a clever twist at the very beginning of the book. The fantasy sounds like a lot of fun with a diverse cast of fairy tale characters. I like good fantasy stories!
    Wow, can’t believe it’s been three years. Time passes so quickly.

  6. Completely Full Bookshelf says:

    Fairy tale characters and books coming to life sound like a great combination for a book! Thanks for the excellent review!

  7. Jenni says:

    This sounds like such a fun series. Every child’s dream–to have their favorite book become real. I also like that it has a lot of nods to our favorite fairy tale characters. Thanks for featuring it!
    Congrats on three years!

  8. I love a good mashup of fairy tales! I’ll have to add this one to my TBR.

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