This really is a big fat teaser of a book. At only seven chapters, just as the story starts to build and you get really engaged it goes and ends - forcing you to seek out the next installment post-haste! I can't decide whether I should be annoyed or applaud the marketing genius behind that decision. I see some people comparing this both favorably and unfavorably with A Series of Unfortunate Events. I can see it - three siblings involved in mysterious and dangerous adventures. But really beyond that I think they're quite different. One is set in a gothic alternate reality type past, but involves a fairly realistic human threat. The other is firmly rooted in the present day, but the story quickly goes down a fantastical path. Also Spiderwick strikes me as much more of an earnestly kid-centric endeavor. I like the cheekiness of Unfortunate Events, but I think a lot of it (most of it?) goes over the intended audience's little heads. So, in some ways it's like comparing apples to oranges, but people do like to compare - I get that.
I think the real stand-out of this series are the illustrations by Tony DiTerlizzi. I love a chapter book that has abundant illustrations! I've enjoyed DiTerlizzi's style before in numerous picture books - The Spider and the Fly, G Is for One Gzonk!: An Alpha-number-bet Book just to name a couple. I love how he is able to portray both the fantastical and absurd, but also the normal and mundane. That rare skill is used to great effect here! I don't think the series would have half the impact without his contribution. I really can't wait to read the next installment and I can't recall that last time I felt that way about an early chapter book series!