Ivy covered the house, right up to the top. The front and the visible side were entirely green. Louis pushed his hand deep into the leaves to feel the warm brick underneath. Beside the front door was a lantern straight out of Narnia: wrought iron and glass panels.
There is a real sense that the house is alive in this story, from it’s creaking noises at appropriate times to the way it seems to sense what the people within really need in their lives and plays a part orchestrating it, or maybe that is just my interpretation of it as that is the beauty of this story, it leaves the best details to your own imagination which ensures you are fully immersed as the reader, enjoying the flow of this story that is as heart-warming as it is intense and unbelievably magical too.
The story is based around a blended family who are looking for a larger home to make living all together a lot less of a squeeze, and from the very offset of seeing the ivy covered house feel as though there is something special about the place, a connection you might say. The stories central character is middle child in the family Abi, who we meet at the beginning of the book having a most incredible experience while reading -which she enjoys doing as much as possible, especially as it gives her an escape from her new older brother Max, and overly attentive younger brother Louis who seems smitten with having a new big sister.
Louis is rebuffed by Abi regularly and seeks companionship in Iffen, a creature that seems difficult to categorise throughout given that he seems to change regularly in size and appearance and be something that Louis imagined up. Climbing through Louis’ window at night and enjoying snacks that are waiting for him the creature is significant and special to Louis alone. This creature will lure you in as the reader, wondering with anticipation as to its identity.
Things intensify for the children and they each have to work on crucial factors affecting them in order to be able to move forward, and when they realise that completing things together is much more rewarding and likely to have the desired affect you get a sense of where the true magic is.
What I loved about this book is that from the very first page you can feel the magic within as well as a true sense of family and what it is like to belong. When I read the story I felt that it portrayed the importance of books and reading brilliantly, whether through hearing Louis argue about why he needn’t read the books he is sent home with from nursery but hearing him read the words aloud soon after or the adventures that Abi experiences through her reading, books are at the centre of this adventure story and quite rightly so because if all stories are as special as this one undeniably is then it’s safe to say that books are where the magic happens and long make it continue.
Published by Macmillan on 5th September.