Laurie Bell’s debut young adult fantasy novel is a treat on so many levels. First off, it’s great fun – a rollicking ride that is a definite page turner with loveable characters (and some distinctly original and scary villains too…) and a plot that comes at you like a fast train, gathering you up and taking you along for a fantastic ride.
But it’s more than just that. Laurie has weaved a very original mythology that guides this novel and will provide a very intriguing through-line for future novels in the series (of which I hope there will be many). And she’s layered this with almost a political under-current – an acute understanding of what it is to be different in a society distrustful of difference.
In this her fantasy novel elevates to something more – an allegory of human nature and the very real need for diversity matched with an equally real difficulty in getting the broader group (or society) to support it. It’s very cool when a fun fantasy novel also makes you stop and think and reflect on your own attitudes to those who are different in some way. It’s a great message for the young audience the book is primarily aimed at, but it was equally compelling to this much more mature reader! And really, the writing is great and the themes universal, so this is truly a book for all ages (the young and the – hopefully still – young at heart)
Laurie’s heroine, Tracey Masters, is a magical girl in a world that doesn’t fully accept or trust magic, and she doesn’t fully understand or accept her own power either as it grows – often quite outside her own control and choice – through the story. It’s a lot for a fifteen year old to handle, on top of school and her burgeoning desire to be a private detective. Throw in school bullies, unrequited (possibly?) crushes, great loyal friends and a boisterous, very believable family and you’ve got a recipe for a rich story indeed.
Then meet The Shadowman and…well..just read chapter two for one of the most chilling and tension filled introductions to a ‘scary monster’ you’re likely to read anywhere…
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and would recommend it to all. Actually – I’m going to put this out there – I have a ‘feeling’ about this book. I think this series and its author are destined for great things. The story is about magic, but the book itself is magic. There’s just something about it….do yourself a favour and get your copy now.
Be one of the first to know…and believe.