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A Reluctant Witch’s Guide to Magic by Shivaun Plozza

Title: A Reluctant Witch’s Guide to Magic

A yellow and peach cover with a pale yellow starburst. Frogs, worms, snails, and spiders are around it. A brown haired girl in purple pants, an aqua shirt, and red jacket with brown boots is running away with a black and white cat next to her. The title, A Reluctant Witch's Guide to Magic is i the starburst. It is by Shivaun Plozza.

Author: Shivaun Plozza

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Puffin

Published: 5th July 2022

Format: Paperback

Pages: 288

Price: $16.99

Synopsis: Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service meets Cressida Cowell in this funny, quirky middle-grade fantasy about Willa, who must unravel a witchy mystery to save her city, her friends and herself.

Willa is just an ordinary non-magical girl, living in the Wild – a city squished between two warring witch covens. She spends her days dodging wayward spells – from raining frogs to dancing chickens – all because of the witch war!
No wonder she hates witches.
But one day she’s not ordinary at all. She discovers she does, indeed, have magic and she must choose between the two witch covens or she’ll explode! And her attempts to control her magic are interrupted by a rogue witch, who begins nefarious spells against the Ordinary Folk. What does the witch want and what does it have to do with Willa?

~*~

Willa is an orphan who lives in the Wild, a city caught between two warring witch covens – the Irontongues and the Silverclaws. She hates magic and is not a witch! Until she’s not. And the fizzy zizzy feeling she sometimes gets hasn’t gone away and keeps popping up when her emotions get big. So she’s whisked off to the palace to be tutored in forms of magic for a year – before she has to choose a cove. Yet as she’s learning and as the coven leaders, Ferula for Irontongue and Eladar from Silverclaw do all they can to convince her to choose their respective covens. Yet as Willa trains and makes friends with the castle dogsbody, Gish, rebellious, unusual magic begins to attack the Ordinary Folk. What’s a reluctant witch to do? Well, as it turns out, uncover the rebel witch, and prove that she can make her own decisions about her magic – but what will Willa have to do to make this happen?

What a delightful book this was. Filled with mystery, magic, and mayhem, this is a wonderful book for middle grade readers and above – I loved the story, with all its complexities told in fun way, and fills the world with whimsy and wonder, whilst still giving us a villain to combat. These things come together wonderfully, and I loved Willa and Gish, because they give readers a beautiful friendship -where someone who has never had friends finds that she has one, and I loved it, I was so happy for Willa when Gish met her and decided to help her. At the same time, I was a bit dubious about her tutor, Gaspard – he seemed too good to be true at times, and when Willa then became friends with the arrogant prince’s sister, Marceline, I knew the trio would soon uncover the mystery of the rogue witch and Rab Culpepper, who exploded when he was unable to choose a coven.

The two mysteries of the rogue witch and Rab Culpepper become important throughout the novel and are integral in how Willa can forge her own path and work out her magic. I loved that Willa, Marceline, and Gish were allowed to have their strengths and flaws, and that not everything had an answer – it shows kids that sometimes you must work for things, and that not everything will work out in any way. Marceline’s brother, the prince, was a foil to their drive to show that not all magic was bad. I loved that they always stood up to him and didn’t let his entitlement and bratty behaviour detract from what they were trying to do. And the chaotic way magic worked for Willa was quite fun – a different way of exploring magic in a middle grade novel. It was a cool way to create the story and ensured a fun read.

I think this was a standalone book, but the way it ended with a few strands left undone, so there is potential for a follow-up. Yet at the same time, allowing readers to imagine what happens is also fun – because as readers, that’s usually what we get to do when we finish any book. Imagining the lives of the characters after we close the page. I love doing this – I won’t say how I think Willa’s life went after the end of the book to avoid spoilers, but I do love what I imagine and feel like it fits with Willa as a character. This was such a fun book, and I loved everything about it. Shivaun writes amazing books, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

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