The second book in the amazing Widdershins Adventures trilogy by Michelle Harrison.
Strong female lead characters, magic, hagstones, pirates, hidden islands, treasure maps, ghostly shipwrecks, escaped prisoners: this book is bursting with adventure!
If you are not familiar with the fantastic Widdershins Adventures from Michelle Harrison, the first book, 'A Pinch of Magic', introduced us to the three Widdershins girls, Betty, Fliss and Charlie, who live on the misty island of Crowstone with their grandmother in the Poacher's Pocket inn. In that book, the sisters discovered that they were the victims of a family curse, which, with the help of some special magical objects, they had to race against time to break. Fast-paced and imaginative, it was definitely one of my favourite books of the last two years and the series is middle grade fantasy at its best.
Michelle Harrison wove a fantastic tale in 'A Pinch of Magic', using elements of British folklore to create a realistic world and mythology. The characters are well written and each has their own distinct voice. One of the elements that I loved was the opening prologue and parallel story running alongside the main plot which gave tantalising glimpses of the origins of the curse. I'm a huge fan of this narrative structure and it kept me hooked throughout the first book.
One of my favourite things about these books is the setting of Crowstone, which is gloomy, spooky and extremely atmospheric. Crowstone is part of a group of bleak islands which are known as the Sorrow Isles because they are home to a prison, a graveyard and an island for exiles:
Once again, in fine fantasy tradition, Michelle Harrison gives us a wonderful prologue. 'A Sprinkle of Sorcery' opens with a magical fairy tale, which is relevant to the main plot and continually revisited and expanded throughout the book. Harrison is a wonderful writer who is adept at creating a rich, lyrical mythology for her stories, so that the reader feels invested in the fantasy elements. Nothing feels forced or contrived, but each piece of the story fits together neatly to provide plausible reasons for the fantastic adventures that the sisters find themselves on. Betty, the middle sister, is the lead protagonist once again; she is bold, adventurous and fiercely protective of her siblings. Both Charlie and Fliss are very different, but equally interesting characters, although I have to profess a real love for Charlie, who is an outspoken six-year-old with a love of food and animals - two things I can really relate to!
As this main story starts, the family are still at the Poacher's Pocket when they hear the bells sounding to announce that a prisoner has escaped. Later that evening, Betty and Charlie discover someone hiding in their back yard and the action starts from there. Without giving too much away, the girls find themselves caught up in a dangerous hunt for a mythical island as they lurch from one disaster to another. It is an action-packed adventure that is sure to thrill children, particularly fans of Abi Elphinstone and Sophie Anderson.
If you are a fan of Michelle Harrision, Abi Eplhinstone or Sophie Anderson, you really need to check out Authorfy, a fantastic webiste dedicated to supporting children's writing through connecting them with authors. They have an amazing online resource section full of author interviews, activities and lesson planning. If you are a parent or teacher and you have not yet joined Authorfy, I would urge you to do so as they have planning for some of the most popular children's authors around today and it is an extremely professional and useful resource.
Get the books:
A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison
A Sprinkle of Sorcery by Michelle Harrison
The third book in the trilogy, 'A Tangle of Spells', is out in February 2021.