|Image copyright Simon and Schuster|
First the blurb...
Three sisters trapped by an ancient curse.
Three magical objects with the power to change their fate.
Will they be enough to break the curse?
Or will they lead the sisters even deeper into danger? ...
Okay, so that's a pretty short blurb, but was more than enough to tempt me into reading this. Covering my tick list pretty efficiently here. An ancient curse, tick. Magical objects, tick. Sisterhood, tick. Danger and adventure, tick.
The only thing that held me back from reading this book sooner was the huge number of superlatives being thrown around in other reviews for it. "Phenomenal", "spellbinding", "brilliant", "breathtaking", "glorious"... the list goes on, and that kind of makes me hold off a bit. I hate being told I'll love something.
The trouble is.... THEY ARE ALL RIGHT!!
This book is absolutely wonderful. It is a perfect example of how to unfold a story. There is exactly the right balance of description and dialogue and every character feels well-rounded and well-placed. The dialogue is natural and at times I was so swept away by the story that I properly lost track of time. I had those wonderful times when I sat down to read and hours later I looked up and found the room in darkness and my tea cold (don't you love it when that happens?!)
I suppose I should give you more detail about the story, but I really don't want to ruin it. The story of the Widdershins sisters doesn't need a longer blurb than the one above and I hate reviews that spoiler. All you need to know is in those few lines above. This fairytale/Grimm type story feels traditional, but with a whole load of new ideas and sparkling adventure. It never veers into stuffy or dull and will make a great novel to read aloud and share. This is exactly the kind of book that you will start reading aloud, and your audience will quickly be sneaking it off to read ahead!
Another thing worth mentioning is the stunning cover of this book. The design is by illustrator Melissa Castrillón and her work also peppers the text with tiny silhouettes and a fantastic map. I love it when a cover acts as a teaser for elements of the story, and this one really does make the book the full package. It makes such a difference when a publisher takes the time to make a book a desirable physical object. Book ownership is an important part of the journey to becoming a lifelong reader, and making printed books a glorious thing to own is vital.
A Pinch of Magic has the quality and feel of a classic children's book, and I hope it will take its place among the best of them.
A Pinch of Magic is written by Michelle Harrison (and illustrated by Melissa Castrillón). It is published by Simon and Schuster.
Review by Dawn Finch, children's author and librarian.
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