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“Swan Song” is a lovely gothic fantasy image by Nene Thomas. The puzzle is moderately challenging thanks to the random patterns in the black wings, white dress, and foggy forest. The Ceaco quality was good value for the price. The pieces are thin, but there was no damaged or bent pieces. The puzzle has an enjoyable random piece cut and a fairly tight fit that lets you move around grouped pieces without them falling apart. There’s no confusion about whether a piece fits somewhere or not. The muted colors and sobter tone make this a nice puzzle for a rainy fall day and a good gift for fantasy-loving teens.

"Swans" is gorgeous gothic fantasy puzzle from Heye and artist Cris Ortega. The puzzle is moderately difficult but fun to assemble with its bright reds, greens, and blues. The puzzle comes in a collectible box and has that solid Heye German-board-game quality from start to finish. The puzzle is grid cut, but there's a wide variety of shapes, and I never had trouble thinking a piece fit where it didn't really go. The pieces are thick and sturdy and have a nice matte finish. This is one you might consider framing when you're done. It's been in print since 2012, thanks to its popularity, but pick it up before it is retired. Many other Cris Ortega puzzles are now quite pricey on ebay. Highly recommended!

"Transylvania" from D-Toys is a fun and easy cartoon puzzle to assemble. The different areas of blue sky, red roofs, cream castle, tan road, and green grass make this puzzle go together very quickly. The artwork is a lot of fun with dozens of characters, each with a unique costume and pose. Human tourists snap photos and watch the antics at the Transylvanian tourist attraction--loaded with rather silly vampires hanging around, cooking food, or putting on a show. The D-Toys quality on this puzzle is good with sturdy pieces, six different piece shapes (in a grid cut), and a nice flat finish. If you like cartoon puzzles, the D-Toys "Cartoon Classics" line is worth a try. Recommended.

This fairy tale puzzle of "Snow White" is one for the adult puzzler. Its use of random patterns adds a nice challenge to assembly, but it's not frustratingly hard. The colors are bright and cheerful, and there are a lot of details woven into Snow White's skirt for you to discover as you puzzle. The lovely folk art style illustration is by Romanian artist Kurti Andrea. The D-Toys quality on this puzzle is good with sturdy pieces, six different piece shapes (in a grid cut), and a nice flat finish. Recommended to fans of folk art, fantasy puzzles, and those looking for a little bit of challenge. Moderately difficult.


Check out our "top ten" list of Halloween puzzles for 2016. Because it's Halloween my list ended up at lucky 13.

I loved assembling this Halloween puzzle! The image by Randy Wollenmann has bright colors and patterns that make assembly easy, quick, and super fun. It was so much fun I completed the puzzle in one session because I just had to do the “next little bit”. The Vermont Christmas Company quality is good with hard, solid pieces. The cut is mostly a grid cut, but not all edges line up and some sides have wavy and diagonal edges. This gave the puzzle a unique personality, and I enjoyed working it. This puzzle is easy enough that it makes an ideal family puzzle. It’s the best of the 2016 Halloween season!

"Nancy Drew" is a fun collage puzzle that will bring back fond memories for those of us who grew up reading Nancy Drew. The book covers themselves are retro works of art with faux spooky designs that are a pleasure to puzzle. The Cobble Hill quality is good with random cut pieces in a wide variety of shapes that run from normal to small in size. The pieces have a linen finish which helps reduce overhead glare. This puzzle is of medium difficulty. All the letters in the book titles help, but I did refer to the box lid quite often to figure out where a piece went. The five large books in the image are a good size but the smaller books are a bit small to see all the detail. If you grew up with Nancy Drew, or like vintage art, you'll love this puzzle. Recommended.

"Ring-Necked Pheasants" is a pretty wildlife puzzle with terrific fall colors. This Cobble Hill puzzle features large pieces that are sturdy, have a snug fit, and a glare-free linen finish. I really enjoyed working with the bigger pieces and they have a nice feeling in your hand. The image by Linda Picken is very peaceful and serene. The gold tones are bright and cheerful to work with. The puzzle is fairly easy due to its 500 piece size, but all the gold adds a touch of challenge. Recommended.

FALL-THEMED PUZZLES WEEK: Fall is my favorite time of year. It's finally cooling down here in Pennsylvania, for which I'm grateful. It's a great time of year to get cozy at night with a mug of cider or hot chocolate and work on a puzzle. This week we’re featuring fall-themed puzzles. We reviewed "Red River Crossing" by...

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