A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee

amostmagicalgirl

 

Title: A Most Magical Girl

Author: Karen Foxlee

Genre: Children’s/Fantasy

Publisher: Bonnier/Piccadilly (Allen and Unwin)

Published: 28th September, 2016

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 304

Price: $19.99

Synopsis: Magical machines, wizards, witches, mysterious underworlds, a race against time – and two most magical girls

Annabel Grey has been brought up to be a very proper Victorian young lady. But being ‘proper’ isn’t always easy – especially when you can sometimes see marvellous (as well as terrifying) things in puddles. But parlour tricks such as these are nothing compared to the world that Annabel is about to enter…

 

After the rather sudden departure of her mother, Annabel is sent to live with her aunts. They claim to be Shoreditch witches, and from a very old family line of them too. They’re keen to introduce Annabel to their world of transformation, potions and flying broomsticks (which seem to have strong personalities of their own) but are horrified when Annabel announces not only does she not know any magic, young ladies shouldn’t believe in such things. But before Annabel has time to decide whether she does or not, she is swept into an urgent quest.

 

The trees of Highgate have been whispering to Kitty – an extraordinary urchin of a girl, who Annabel’s aunts seem very fond of – and so have the fairies. They talk of a terrible, dark magic that wants to devour all of London. And of a most magical girl who might be able to stop it…

 

This sparkling and enchanting story is sure to bewitch you, so curl up in front of the fire, and prepare to be swept away…

~*~

 

Karen Foxlee’s latest offering for children is The Most Magical Girl. Set in Victorian London, Annabel Grey is sent to live with her great-aunts, the Shoreditch witches, away from the world she knows. Away from her friend, Isabelle Rutherford, and away from the school she knows at Miss Finch’s Academy for Young Ladies, she is thrust into a world of magic. It is a world that her mother abandoned, and a world that is in danger from Mr Angel and his shadowlings. Together with the betwixter girl who visits her aunts, Kitty, Annabel must journey to Under London and along a perilous journey to find the Morever Wand, also known as The White Wand.

This journey is fraught with danger, danger that Annabel is unprepared for and that she must learn to cope with as she goes. Like Ophelia and The Marvellous Boy, Karen Foxlee has created a world of wonder and magic that parallels the real world, and both exist seamlessly alongside each other. Annabel’s journey from the life she knew to the life she was destined for. Together, Kitty and Annabel find their way through the dangers of Under London, and to a climax that reveals more about Annabel than she had ever wished to know.

Aimed at ages nine to twelve, this book is suited to anyone who enjoys magic in their stories. A quick read, it kept me enthralled and entertained to the last pages, and had me wishing for the answers Annabel was waiting for at the end. The absence of her mother throughout the novel gave Annabel the drive she needed to unlock her powers. The Victorian London setting was just as magical as the real magic of the Great and Benevolent Magical Society in the pages.

This is an excellent read for lovers of magic and fantasy.

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The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders (Laetitia Rodd #1)

wishtide cover

 

I received a copy from the publisher for review

Title: A Laetitia Rodd Mystery: The Secrets of Wishtide

Author: Kate Saunders

Genre: Fiction/Crime Fiction

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Published: 1st August 2016

RRP: $29.99

Format: Trade Paperback edition

Pages: 335

Price: $27.99

Synopsis: Mrs Laetitia Rodd, aged fifty-two, is the impoverished widow of an Archdeacon. Living in Well Walk, Hampstead, with her confidante and landlady, Mrs Benson (who once let rooms to John Keats), Mrs Rodd makes her living as a highly discreet private investigator.

 

Her brother, Frederick Tyson, is a criminal barrister living in the neighbouring village of Highgate with his wife and ten children. Fred finds the cases, and Mrs Rodd solves them, using her arch-intelligence, her iron discretion and her immaculate cover as an unsuspecting widow.

 

When Frederick brings to her attention a case involving the son of the well-respected, highly-connected Sir James Calderstone, Mrs Rodd sets off for Lincolnshire, to take up a position as the family’s new governess – quickly making herself indispensable.

 

But the seemingly simple case – looking into young Charles Calderstone’s ‘inappropriate’ love interest – soon takes a rather unpleasant turn. And as the family’s secrets begin to unfold, Mrs Rodd discovers the Calderstone’s have more to hide than most.

 

~*~

 

The Secrets of Wishtide introduces readers to Mrs Laetitia Rodd, an amateur private detective in the Victorian era. Mrs Rodd uses her discretion and mannerisms as a lady of the times to her advantage to gain access to people and information that might otherwise be hidden away. When she is asked to investigate the female companion of a wealthy family, Mrs Rodd soon finds that some families have deeper secrets than others, and the Calderstones are no exception. The unpleasant turn in the case leads Mrs Rodd into a world of secrets that she never anticipated.

Amateur detective stories seem to be quite popular these days, much like Miss Marple and Poirot were and still are. From Mma Ramotswe, to Rowland Sinclair, Taylor Bridges, Cass Lehmann and now, Laetitia Rodd, I am enjoying investigating cases with these detectives, whether they stumble across them or are purposely engaged to investigate, as Mrs Rodd is. Perhaps the appeal of these amateur detectives is that they are relatable. They are not constrained by the rules that a police force might be, and though a character like Mrs Rodd might be accused of being a busybody, it is this characteristic that makes her appealing and a joy to read.

Kate Saunders has captured the essence of Victorian England and Victorian fiction. The Secrets of Wishtide does not read like a modern author trying to place the story within the 1850s – it has the tone of a Dickens novel, and the feel of Victorian London – something any good novel that has an historical setting or aspect should strive to do. I was immediately transported to 1850 and the Victorian world. As the first book in a series, it did it’s job wonderfully – introducing the main character, and what she does, who she is and where she lives, as well as setting the scene nicely. I look forward to reading more in this series.