Friday 6 November 2020

Book Review | A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison

Title: A Pinch of Magic 
Author: Michelle Harrison • Author's Site 
Publication Date: 7th February 2019 by Simon & Schuster
Format: ebook via Scribd
Target Audience: Middle Grade
Genre: Fantasy  



All Betty Widdershins wants is an adventure—one that takes her far away from Crowstone, the gloomy island where she’s always lived. But instead of an adventure, Betty and her sisters, Fliss and Charlie, are given of a set of magical objects, each with its own powers: a scruffy carpet bag, a set of wooden nesting dolls, and a gilt-framed mirror. And these magical objects come with their own terrible secret: the sisters’ family is haunted by a generations-long curse that prevents them from ever leaving their island—at the cost of death.

The sisters set out to break the curse and free their family forever. But after stumbling upon a mysterious prisoner who claims to be able to help them, they find themselves in great danger. And in order to break the curse—and stay alive—they must unravel a mystery that goes back centuries, one that involves shipwrecks, smugglers, and sorcery of the most perilous kind.



My Thoughts

"She who tries, triumphs."

I can't rave about this book enough. This is exactly the kind of middle grade that I adore; magical, high stakes adventure and unbreakable family bonds. This book follows the three Widdershins sisters - Betty, Fliss and Charlie - as they are given the news that an old family curse means that they can never leave their island home of Crowstone otherwise the unspeakable will happen, they will die by the next sunset. Betty is determined to find a way to break the curse and with some unlikely help, she sets out to do just that.
This is a middle grade series that everyone raves about and so when a readathon prompt came up in October where I had to read a book about sisters, I knew that it was finally time to pick this up. I have actually read some of Michelle Harrison's books before. Her Thirteen Treasures series were some of my favourite books in my early teens but this book exceeded all my expectations. 
From the very first page I was swept up into this enchanting story. Harrison's writing made this feel like a dark fairytale especially with the whole curse and magical objects aspect. I always love the descriptiveness of middle grades, the imagination behind the settings always make me feel like I'm right there. I loved the setting of Crowstone and it's surrounding isles, with names likes Marshfoot, Windy Bottom and I particularly like the name of the inn the Widdershins family owns - The Poachers Pocket. When books have such creative names for places, it makes it all that more whimsical. 
The characters are some of my favourites I've ever read about. Betty is so strong and determined and her voice really helps to tell this story. I think it was definitely the right decision to have her take the central role in this adventure as I knew that whatever was thrown at them, Betty would keep marching forward. I could relate to Fliss a lot as she shouldered a lot of responsibility being the eldest but she also had a quiet resolve that reminded me of myself. Charlie was probably my favourite though! For six years old she is the mischievous one that kept me laughing as well as being such a colourful character. Together they make a wonderful team and it was beautiful to read about how much love they have for each other and what they're willing to sacrifice to save one another.
The plot is weaved so well, we get the main adventure of the three sisters setting out to break the curse as well as the occasional flashback as to how the curse began and the tale of Sorcha Spellthorn. These sections were some of my favourite as I really enjoyed getting to know her as a character as well. I was also pleasantly suprised at the different turns the story takes as I honestly didn't know where it was going to go next. I especially loved the ending as I felt it was the perfect way to wrap up this story but also leave things to progress nicely for the sequel which I will inevitably be reading very soon.
I'm so glad I picked this book up, it has so much going for it and was a fantastic adventure that left me wanting more from these characters, their sisterly bond and their escapades. I can't recommend this book more, even if you're not a big middle grade lover, i'd still urge you to give it a shot.                    

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