Saturday 23 January 2021

The House at the Edge of Magic by Amy Sparkes Book Review

 It's been a while since I lost myself in what would be described as a children's book. I say described as because really I think any book can be read by anybody. 

This year my reading has been rather up and down, I've found myself struggling to really get engaged at times, perhaps that is down to genre or maybe because of everything that we as a world have been through this year.

Whatever the cause, I can't tell you how glad I was to have the chance to peruse Amy Sparkes latest novel The House at the Edge of Magic. 

It may come as no surprise to you that I found this book truly magical.

Nine is an orphan pickpocket determined to escape her life in the Nest of a Thousand Treasures. When she steals a house-shaped ornament from a mysterious woman's purse, she knocks on its tiny door and watches it grow into a huge, higgledy-piggeldy house. Inside she finds a host of magical and brilliantly funny characters, including Flabberghast – a young wizard who’s particularly competitive at hopscotch – and a hideous troll housekeeper who’s emotionally attached to his feather duster. They have been placed under an extraordinary spell, which they are desperate for Nine to break. If she can, maybe they can offer her a new life in return…

I'll admit between the blurb and the front cover I was highly intrigued.

The icing on the cake was when I saw Abi Elphinstone's recommendation - one of my favourite authors recommending a book - me reading this book was meant to be.

Described as Beauty and the Beast meets Oliver Twist. We follow protagonist Nine (an orphaned thiefling) as she makes a magnificent effort to leave her dreary life in the hopes of something bigger and better being just around the corner.

Beginning with Nine trying to steal a woman's bag to give any of its contents to Pockets, who is like the character of Fagin. After a second more successful attempt, what she comes away with is a tiny ornament of a house.

As she knocks on its tiny knocker the magic begins and so does Nine's journey to a better life.

Now, I adored this book immensely but I find it a hard one to review without giving away all the charm that the book holds.

"I am Flabberghast. High Wizard, Chair of the Tea Tasters Committee, World Hopscotch Champion 1835"

So what can I tell you?

Well I guess I can talk about who else is involved in the story. We get introduced to a cast of quirky characters including Flabberghast the Wizard, Eric the Troll and Dr Spoon. Each one living in this higgledy piggledy house that Nine has discovered, all cursed to stay in its walls by a witch.

How to break the curse isn't quite clear but what does become apparent is that Nine is so much more than the pickpocket that she's believed to be.

This is a truly immersive story.

One filled with humour, wit and weirdly wonderful events that will have you smiling from ear to ear with each turn of the page.

A rolling theme in the book seems to be cupboards, when you know, you know.

Something that gave the book an extra touch of wonder were the illustrations at the start of each chapter, every drawing relating to something within its chosen chapter, from dusters and trophies to jewels and houses. I didn't catch them all first time round, something to discover when you re-read (which you will).

'Say the magic words.'

My favourite character had to be Nine, feisty and determined, she was a constant surprise. A close second being Eric, I just found myself constantly wanting to give him a cuddle.

Final thoughts - 

The House at the Edge of Magic is a brilliant addition to the MG genre. 

Ridiculously adorable!

Filled with fun, friendship and family, I was thrilled to see that although this could be read as a stand alone book, there will be more adventures for Nine and her new found family.

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