by Michelle Harrison;
An Adventure Book Review by Erin the Cat Princess©
Hello, and welcome to an impromptu MIDWEEK Book Review featuring Adventures in Middle-Grade Fiction!
We are delighted to bring you the SOON TO BE PUBLISHED (3/2/22) fourth adventure in the Pinch of Magic series, titled ‘A Storm of Sisters’.
This book, like the preceding three, was an absolute pleasure. We received a digital copy of this through NetGalley, courtesy of Simon and Schuster Children’s Books. A big thank you to both those fine folk.
But enough of the preamble, let’s get on with the review.
A STORM OF SISTERS, by MICHELLE HARRISON
Published by: SIMON AND SCHUSTER CHILDREN’S BOOKS.
Paperback ISBN: 978 – 1 – 4711 – 9765 – 9
Cover price for Paperback £7.99
Age range: 9 and upwards
The Widdershins sisters, Fliss, Betty and Charlie, live with their father and granny in the village of Pendlewick. It is their first winter in the quaint and slightly crooked, 200-year-old ‘Blackbird Cottage’. They moved there the previous year, from the damp, fog and drear of the island of Crowstone, near the marshes and a rather severe island prison.
Pendlewick is very different from life at the Poachers Pocket Inn they lived at in Crowstone. Not least because it is warm and sunny. However, one thing hasn’t changed, and that is the pinch of magic that the sisters share. The magic seems, if not directly, to draw them into many adventures and to help them out.
When an unexpected letter arrives from their father’s cousin, Clarissa, granny and the girls head to the decidedly remote and frozen town of WILDERNESS, to the aptly named ‘Frostbite Cottage’ to help her recover from her broken ankle.
Wilderness lives up to its name, and the cold journey by horse and carriage takes them to a snow globe-like place worthy of wolves, evil snow queens and all manner of cold, fantasy creatures. It also leads them to a long cold walk through the snow to reach Clarissa’s cottage, where the thundering sounds of a ghostly steed haunt the wind and snow-swept woods all around. But a welcome and warm fire awaits. Sadly no beds as the cottage is too small for five. Much to their joy, the girls get to stay at Echo Hall, a large hotel overlooking the town, its Winter Market, and its ice-covered lake.
The girls soon learn of the dark side of Wilderness. The legend of Jack Frost the highwayman, and his lover, Elora, who worked at Echo Hall, Both losing their lives and their treasure to the lake forty years past. There is the story of the ill-fated, humbled fortune-teller who lost her livelihood, and of a lost treasure. Then, there is Elora’s curse. If you see Elora, the maid, at your hotel room window, then death will take a relative.
The girls know all too well that there is always some truth to legends. And that ghosts, like magic, do exist. Those thoughts wane beside the pleasures of the market and the prospect of skating on the lake. Until that is, they discover a body and then see Elora at their window.
So, what did we think?
For want of an expression, this is a delightful spellbinding adventure. Spine tinglingly atmospheric thanks to Michelle’s commitment to defining so well the world we are immersed into. A plot that is woven as beautifully and naturally as the patterns of frost on glass. The Widdershins are shown in all their glory, as good and as bad as any family is. From granny, the grumpy ex-landlady, to incorrigible young Charlie and lovely romantic Fliss. In humour or sadness, good or bad, the family shines, arguably strongest when the chips are down. But isn’t that just like life?
So . . . .
This is the fourth book in the series. While we have read the other three, I can say hand on heart that these will work as stand-alone stories. But, you will get far more out of the adventures if you start from the beginning with A Pinch of Magic. I will confess that it took me a short while to get into this new world of magic and adventure. Maybe I had put on it expectations of other more staid cliched magical books. But the world is, as I mentioned earlier, so very well set up earthly and atmospheric. I now would not wish to ever see it go. I can but wonder what the following stories will bring for this wonderful human family that seem dogged by misfortune, or is it actually fortune? Undoubtedly it will bring magic, and a pinch of mischief too. Always complex, yet lightened by the style of writing that makes this such a compulsive read. Oh, and for those of us that love cats, the Widdershins’ have a black cat rather aptly named Oi! I’ll leave you to decide why.
A no hesitation recommendation. Buy for yourself, family or friends. Best I think enjoyed on a cold winters evening by a roaring fire with a drink of cocoa.
Want to buy a copy?
To get a copy, please do consider slipping on your own ice skates and zipping down to your local independent bookshop first, mindful of ghosts, thin ice and treasure on route!
If any authors/publishers wish us to review their books, please do get in touch.