Starfell #2: Willow Moss and the Forgotten Tale by Dominique Valente

Starfell 2Title: Starfell #2: Willow Moss and the Forgotten Tale

Author: Dominique Valente

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: HarperCollins Australia

Published: 20th April 2020

Format: Paperback

Pages: 304

Price: $16.99

Synopsis: The anticipated second book in 2019’s breakout magical fantasy series, Starfell, starring misfit witch Willow Moss. Perfect for readers of 8+ and beautifully illustrated throughout by Sarah Warburton.

Willow Moss, the youngest and least powerful sister in a family of witches, recently saved the world. The problem is, nobody can remember it – and, to make matters worse, her magical ability seems broken. Instead of finding lost things, objects keep disappearing against her will … which is especially troubling now that her friend Sometimes needs her help!

Sometimes has discovered how to see ten minutes into the future. Unfortunately that’s only enough time to find out that his kidnappers are on their way! His only hope is to write an urgent letter to Willow, asking if she wouldn’t mind trying to find him.

As Willow and her friends piece together what has happened to Sometimes, their adventure takes them from an enchanted tower to the magical forest of Wisperia and into dangerous new realms… Can Willow save Sometimes when her own powers are out of control?

~*~

Willow Moss is back – mourning the loss of Granny Flossy and trying to get along with her family. She saved the world, yet nobody really remembers – just Moreg Vaine, her new friend. Willow’s magical ability is to find things, yet that gift seems to be broken and she is making things disappear. When she finds out her friend Nolin Sometimes, needs her help, she sets out on a journey to Wisperia – a dangerous place people warn her against heading to. Yet adventure calls, and with Oswin, a cloud dragon and other companions by her side, Willow hopes she can find Sometimes and get her powers back under control.

After reading the first book, Willow Moss and the Lost Day earlier this year in March, I was hooked and wanted to find out what happened next. HarperCollins sent me the second book to review, and finally, I am managing to get my review up! Willow Moss is the kind of character girls need – not princessy, not frilly and not perfect. She has her flaws, and her strengths – both of which are shown equally throughout the novel, even though the kobold, often mistaken for a cat, Oswin, often berates her and is rather irate at times. He brings humour and fun to the story, and is a rather interesting character on his own, with a distinctive voice that stands out against everyone else.

Moreg Vaine is the one you never know what to expect from, yet seems trustworthy – she’s absent for much of this book, yet her presence is felt, as is Granny Flossy’s, and together, these elements combine to make an intriguing premise and sert of characters who guide Willow through her journey across Starfell and all the mysteries she has to solve and things that she has to find. This is the second book in a very promising middle grade series that has charmed me, and is sure to charm younger readers, and indeed readers of all ages.

It is an escape, and an adventure. A book to be devoured yet it is also one that can be savoured. There are delightful and fun elements within this book, coupled with magical and worrisome ones, but not too scary – just enough to have you on the edge of your seat, reading on to find out what happens next. And Willow explores her emotions – which is powerful and important for child readers. Her family is present, but in the tradition of middle grade books, we get rid of the parents – if only temporarily – so Willow can go on her adventures. This is a great series, and as a keen fan of these books and the gwnre, I am eager to see what happens next for Willow!

Willow Moss and the Lost Day (Starfell #1) by Dominique Valente

Starfell 1Title: Willow Moss and the Lost Day (Starfell #1)

Author: Dominique Valente

Genre: Fantasu

Publisher: HarperCollins

Published: 2nd May 2019

Format: Paperback

Pages: 304

Price: $16.99

Synopsis: The first book in the most spellbinding children’s fantasy series of the year, now in paperback, with beautiful black-and-white inside illustrations by Sarah Warburton. Perfect for fans of Cressida Cowell and Nevermoor.

Willow Moss, the youngest and least powerful sister in a family of witches, has a magical ability for finding lost things – like keys, or socks, or spectacles. Useful, but not exactly exciting…

Then the most powerful witch in the world of Starfell turns up at Willow’s door and asks for her help. A whole day – last Tuesday to be precise – has gone missing. Completely. And without it the whole universe could unravel.

Now Willow holds the fate of Starfell in her rather unremarkable hands… Can she save the day – by finding the lost one?

Step into Starfell, a world crackling with warmth, wit and magic, perfect for readers aged 8–12. Book 2 coming in April 2020!

~*~

Willow Moss is supposed to have magic like her sisters, but she’s not as powerful as the rest of her family. However, she does have a magical talent that is probably more precious than any other gift. She can find things.

One day Moreg Vaine, Starfell’s most powerful witch asks for Willow’s help to find Tuesday – an entire day from the preceding week has disappeared and without it, Starfell could meet a very dark fate that nobody wants to experience.

Willow’s journey takes her across the land of Starfell, accompanied by a rather irate kobold named Oswin, who berates her and offers advice throughout the novel. Willow’s journey is not easy though, and she must face many dangers, including the Brothers of Wol who do not like witches or anything that goes against what they believe in – reminiscent of the witch hunts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It is this conflict that drives the novel, and Willow is a character who will grow and learn across the series. At the same time, she will prove that she can do the things that everyone says she can’t do or shouldn’t do. Yet only Willow can find the missing Tuesday and set the world right and ensure that she still has a family and place to live at the end of her journey.

Girls being front and centre in books is taking off, and these days, they are occupying a myriad of role and personalities to appeal to all readers – they’re not just stereotypes or strong female characters who occupy a specific time and place in their story. Here, we have characters like Willow who are reluctant and unsure of what to do, they’ve been told things that are not true and are forced to confront these memories  and through doing this, they grow and learn that they are more than what everyone has been telling them they are.

Middle grade is an age group that is gaining a lot of traction, and this book is aimed at readers aged eight and older – and I think will appeal to readers of all genders. It is a wonderful book, and a really good start to a series that I am very keen to follow as each book is released. This is one of those books I picked up on a whim, because the story looked interesting, and I think it is one that many will enjoy regardless of age, and one that will be fun to read out loud as well.