One to Watch : Autumn 2019 – Shadows of Winterspell

Deep in the forest, magic is waiting…

This being the latest title from Amy Wilson, Shadows of Winterspell is due for publication on October 17th 2019 and it is well worth the wait. Undoubtedly one of our future #Booktalk titles, I have already begun the process of recommending this title to one and all as a one to watch this autumn and here is why…

Telling the story of Stella Briggs, a young girl who lives with her nanny in a small little house at the edge of a vast forest -except her nanny is actually a ghost, the forest is full of dark shadows and the house is protected by charms so that only few know of its existence. This is an unbelievable journey for your imagination, taking you along the precipice between the world of magic and of humans, reigniting your belief in all things magical that once existed in you as a small child.  

When Stella decides she needs to meet people and make friends she enrols herself into the local school and in no time at all Stella’s life changes completely. The school Stella attends is described so vividly it comes across as a combination of J.K Rowling’s Hogwarts and the school from Roald Dahl’s Matilda for me, and although others may have different perceptions there is no doubt as to the grandeur and significance of the place, leaving you curious about each character referenced there, especially as it’s no ordinary school, it timetables magic classes for those relevant students too.

It is at school that Stella meets the two other main characters in the book, Yanny and Zara. With one being human and the other from magical origins there is a real struggle for Stella to keep it all separate, fortunately she is a strong willed and determined character who is used to keeping secrets, her nanny is a ghost after all! This two world combination is easy to navigate as all things magic are described and explained in ways that make the story flow with ease, including the “trump cards” that feature throughout the book (assuming they feature in the finished book) that give a description of magical creatures such as Centaurs, and using the cards scales we learn which creatures are best skilled at the what and are able to envisage the relevant mythical creatures with our imagination whilst getting a sense that the story is building in tension concurrently to the strength and speed of the mentioned mythical creatures.

As you grow familiar with the characters you build a genuine bond with them and find yourself willing the trio on to stay safe from any and all danger whilst eager to know more. When we visit the home of Yanny in the book for example we get a real understanding of his drive and determination, what he has endured until now and what he continues to deal with on a daily basis. This depth and detail given to each character is a large part of what makes this book such a hit, allowing the reader to really feel emerged there with the trio. 

What we learn as the book progresses is that there is more to Stella then meets the eye, something even her nanny is leaving out. Stella and her friends must stick together if they are to emerge from this the victors that much is clear, but it is only through concluding the book that all becomes clear, with every chapter read being a reward in itself. Whether you are already familiar with all things magical or not this book is a delight to read and cherish for all, leaving you feeling as though you have experienced an adventure of a lifetime. 

Amy Wilson has an amazing talent for connecting our world with that of the world of magic within the literature she writes and making it feel real. Just like scenes from within her earlier book A girl called Owl  where main character Owl is creating patterns within the frost and ice with Jack Frost himself, or in her most recent title Snowglobe  where Clementine enters a mysterious house full of snowglobes and then enters the world of snowglobes themselves, the level of imaginative, creative and immersive scene setting is phenomenal. Definitely one of the top children’s fantasy fiction writers of our time Amy Wilson takes story telling to the next level in her books and leaves you longing for the next story she  wants to tell.

Shadows of Winterspell is published by Macmillan and is released on 17th October 2019 priced at £6.99 (PB) featuring a stunning cover by Rachel Vale and Helen Crawford-White.

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