Updated: Apr 2
The latest Widdershins adventure may be the best yet, cementing this as one of the best middle grade fantasy series out at the moment. For ages 9+.
The three Widdershins sisters, Betty, Fliss and Charlie, have finally left the gloomy island of Crowstone and the Poacher's Pocket Inn for an idyllic life in a picturesque country village of Pendlewick. But this is a village with a sinister past, which will put the whole family in grave danger.
This is the third book in this outstanding series by Michelle Harrison. If you haven't read the first two books, you can check out my quick video review below. I also have an in-depth video guide to book one, A Pinch of Magic, and a blog post on book two, A Sprinkle of Sorcery, so do check those out.
We join the Widdershins sisters on the day that they are finally moving out of the Poacher's Pocket Inn, the only home that they have ever known. Each member of the family feels rather differently about it, but Betty, the adventurous middle sister, cannot wait to get on their father's boat and head to their new home on the mainland.
However, from the minute they spy their new home, Blackbird cottage, the girls feel something is wrong. The house is old, dilapidated and crooked, but Gran and Dad are convinced that a bit of hard work is all that is needed to turn it into their dream home. While Gran is off looking for work in town, the girls discover that the ivy around the cottage is concealing a secret room, which reveals some dark secrets about the town's past.
It is hard to talk about all of the things I loved in this book without giving too much away. Michelle Harrison has managed to craft yet another complex and satisfying mystery, full of magic and adventure. Much like book one, we are given a parallel story woven in between the scenes, which holds the key to the mystery. The scenes in the cottage and the mystery room are both thrilling and chilling: this is a real pager turner of a book!
This series is a must-have for any school or class library. The books are packed with so much excitement, magic and adventure that they are hard to put down. Harrison's world building is imaginative without being overly complicated, yet it has a depth to it that makes it believable, which is something that often disappoints me with some other middle grade fantasy books. What I love most about this series is the indomitable nature of our hero, Betty Widdershins. She is brave, resourceful and fiercly loyal to her family. Female lead characters are still rare enough that I rejoice in such a fantastic series which has girls at its heart. The beautiful cover art, designed by the amazing illustrator, Melissa Castrillon, adds to the delight of these great stories. A Tangle of Spells, with its eldritch mystery and suspense, might just be my favourite installment yet.