A spellbinding tale of friendship, family and adventure that skilfully blends our world with a frightening magical realm.
Twelve-year-old Stella lives in a cottage on the edge of Winterspell Forest with the ghost of her grandmother and her Nan’s imp, Peg. It is a lonely life and Stella is desperate for company. She’d like to socialise with the magical creatures who live in the forest but she is banned from entering. Besides, these Fae peoples are too busy fighting off the vicious shadows who are slowly taking over Winterspell. With no other option, Stella ignores her Nan’s warnings and enrols herself in the local school. At school she hopes to find friends and a normal life. She does find the friends she is looking for but, instead of a normal life, Stella is drawn into the magical realm and on a journey that will take her deep into the shadow-infested forest.
I’ve heard lots of positive things about Amy Wilson’s previous books – Snowglobe, A Girl Called Owl and A Far Away Magic – but I’ve never quite got around to reading them. I was, therefore, excited to read Shadows of Winterspell and a little apprehensive: what if the book didn’t live up to expectations? I needn’t have worried. I loved Stella from page one when, in response to Nan’s nagging, she describes her home to the reader as follows:
‘I think it’s OK,’ … I mean, it’s a bit cluttered, and actually I really can’t remember the last time I dusted, but I don’t mind, and I’m the only one living here, after all.’
Stella’s first-person voice is full of warmth and she’s instantly likeable. With so many books full of feisty female characters, I also liked the fact that Stella has to battle her own insecurities before she can demonstrate her inner strength and fulfil her destiny.
The two supporting characters – fairy Yanny and human Zara – are equally appealing. (Although my personal favourite is a much smaller character: Mrs Mandrake who delivers weekly groceries to Stella’s home and goes on to arm Zara to join the magical battle).
While the characterisation is strong, it is the world building that makes this book so special. The human and magical worlds are almost seamlessly interwoven and author, Amy Wilson, skilfully introduces us to a host of Fae creatures and their history with an impressive simplicity. Indeed, it was only when I paused to reflect that I realised quite how much information I had absorbed through her storytelling.
If you enjoyed this, you might like to try one of Amy Wilson’s other stories which include Snowglobe, A Girl Called Owl and A Far Away Magic. Alternatively, if you’re looking for magical books by other authors, I’d recommend you try The Last Spell Breather by Julie Pike or The Girl with Shark’s Teeth by Cerrie Burnell.
Date: October 2019
Author’s website: Amy Wilson