Fire Spell – Laura Amy Schlitz

Expect a selection of reviews of children’s books in the run up to Christmas as I have been vetting a few for Luke and Eva and I always like to know what they’re getting when they open a book…plus I enjoy them too. :-)  This one is destined for Eva who is a little bookworm so she will love it.  I wouldn’t recommend it for reluctant readers as it is a fairly hefty tome at almost 400 pages and it would bore Luke silly but then he’s 12 and he hates fantasy unless there are zombies…

Fire Spell

Paperback, 400 pages
Published September 13th 2012 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
My Rating – 4 stars – almost there!
Set in Victorian London in 1860, Fire Spell will appeal to young readers with a penchant for magical adventure and fantasy. Clara Wintermute comes from a wealthy but rather melancholy family, not surprising given that all her siblings were wiped out by cholera. She longs for some excitement in her life and this comes in the shape of the puppeteer, Grisini, a Fagin-like character and his young urchin assistants, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall (the Artful Dodger?). Unfortunately, in true Victorian melodrama style, all does not bode well and Clara ends up imprisoned in the body of a puppet while Grisini engages in magical and mental battle with the aged witch Cassandra. Will Clara ever return to human form? Can Lizzie Rose and Parsefall help her whilst evading the clutches of their evil master? Does Cassandra have a human heart after all?

Yes, it’s all rather melodramatic but extremely good fun and reminiscent of the adventures of E Nesbit’s characters with touches of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline and The Graveyard Book as well as a pinch of Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart Trilogy. Targeted at the 9-12 age group, at almost 400 pages, I think it’s perhaps only suitable for very confident readers in the younger age bracket but it is an enjoyable romp of a read for anyone who enjoys an exciting, magical, well plotted story with no great surprises en route.

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