Witchy Middle-Grade Mini Reviews | Halloween 2018

Hi! I’ve had these mini-reviews sitting in my drafts folder for months. Then I realised Halloween is the perfect time to share them. If you’re hungry for even more inspo for the junior reader in your life (or maybe YOU are the junior reader in your life), scroll to the end of the post for a bonus reading list!

break3

The Apprentice Witch

The Apprentice Witch Book Review Paige's PagesAUTHOR: James Nicol
SERIES: The Apprentice Witch #1
PUBLISHER: Chicken House Books
RELEASE DATE
: July 7, 2016
GENRE
: Middle-Grade Fantasy
PAGE COUNT
: 352
Add on Goodreads

After failing her witch’s evaluation, Arianwyn is sent to the remote town of Lull to work as an apprentice witch. While misadventure awaits around every corner, Arianwyn is preoccupied by the dark and mysterious glyph haunting the shadows of her mind.

Arianwyn is a cute character and easy to sympathise with and cheer on. Her fantasy world (similar to 1900s England) unfolds organically without any infodumps of worldbuilding. I like how the use of magic is commonplace, and being a witch is an ordinary – albeit hereditary – profession. I like the idea of magic being a thread and glyphs (symbols drawn by a witch) being the needle necessary to use magic. It’s an approach to magic that is new to me, and adds a cool visual element.

However, there were two downsides for me. Firstly, I found the middle very slow. The beginning and the end were both interesting and well-paced, but my attention was lost in the middle because the side plots were getting the majority of the focus. Secondly, this book has so many idiot characters! I was constantly frustrated because people keep getting in Arianwyn’s way, blaming her, and jumping to conclusions. She is continually misunderstood and belittled. I just wanted to scream at the mayor and Gimma, her rival! I think The Apprentice Witch will be enjoyed by junior readers, but unfortunately not hold up as well for adult readers who may crave more variety and depth to the cast of characters.

break2

The House with a Clock in Its Walls

The House with a Clock in its Walls Book Review Paige's PagesAUTHOR: John Bellairs
SERIES: Lewis Barnavelt #1
PUBLISHER: Puffin Boooks
RELEASE DATE
: 1973
GENRE
: Middle-Grade Fantasy
PAGE COUNT
: 192
Add on Goodreads

When 11-year-old Lewis is orphaned, he comes to live with his Uncle Jonathan. His new home is a mysterious mansion, previously owned by a wizard who left behind a clock that ticks within the house’s walls. Although no one can say where the ticking is coming from, one thing is certain: it means something bad is going to happen.

This is a such a cosy, twee book. Although Lewis is a rather bland character, I enjoyed meeting his eccentric Uncle Jonathan and neighbour, Mrs Zimmermann. The adults’ constant playful bickering was funny, and Jonathan’s demonstrations of magic were tinged with old fashioned wonderment.

The premise of the ticking clock is interesting, but disappointing in execution. The mystery is established at the start of the book, then completely brushed aside until the last 10% or so, at which point it escalates into a life-or-death scale climax. If all you’re after is a silly and suspenseful adventure, then this is just right for enjoying with a cup of hot chocolate.

break2

The Endsister

The Endsister Book Review Paige's PagesAUTHOR: Penni Russon
PUBLISHER: Allen&Unwin
RELEASE DATE
: February, 2018
GENRE
: Contemporary Middle-Grade Fiction; Paranormal Fantasy
PAGE COUNT
: 256
Add on Goodreads

The Outhwaite family is turned upside down when they are forced to move from rural Australia to a haunted house in London. As Sibbi, the youngest, grows more and more tormented by the restless attic ghost, it appears that something’s gotta give.

There are so many things I love about this book. Firstly, the writing is so poetic and flowing that each sentence is a joy to read. Descriptions and emotions lingered in my mouth after reading. Secondly, The Endsister is a genre-bender. It has a fresh contemporary vibe while drawing from gothic paranormal roots for a very cool style.

Lastly and most importantly in my opinion, I love how the narrative is shared by each member of the Outhwaite family. Even in such a short period of time, I feel like I got to know each character clearly. Their unique struggles and feelings felt realistic and relatable. I especially connected with nature-lover and middle child, Clancy. I genuinely wanted to continue reading his story after the book ended. There are some truly memorable gems of insight in The Endsister, making it a book I will revisit and share to junior and adult readers. It has a similar vibe to Coraline by Neil Gaiman, but with much prettier writing and a heartwarming message about home and belonging.

break2

Witch for a Week

Witch for a Week Book Review Paige's PagesAUTHOR: Kaye Umansky
SERIES: (Elsie Pickles #1)
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster UK
RELEASE DATE
: October 5, 2017
GENRE
: Junior Fantasy
PAGE COUNT
: 182
Add on Goodreads

When Elsie offers to housesit for local witch, Magenta Sharp, she has no idea what she’s getting herself into. Dabbling in magic and meeting an eccentric cast of characters turns out to be quite the memorable adventure!

Witch for a Week takes the cake for Cutest and Silliest Story. (Can someone hurry up and make this an offical award?) I think it would go down a treat with early readers in the 5-9 age category, especially those who love magic but are distressed by monsters and violence. I’m a proper adult who genuinely laughed out loud on numerous occasions. If you love reading about magic spells, talking animals, brave and clever little girls, and nonsense and mischief, you will love Witch for a Week. With its heartfelt positivity, it is a lovely source of escapism for when you need a one-sitting pick-me-up.

break2

Middle-Grade Halloween Reading List

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend ★★★★★
Read My Review | Add on Goodreads

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier ★★★★☆
Read My Review | Add on Goodreads

The School for Good and Evil series by Soman Chainani ★★★★★
Add on Goodreads

The House of Months and Years by Emma Trevayne ★★★☆☆
Add on Goodreads

Strange Star by Emma Carroll ★★★☆☆
Add on Goodreads

Pure Dead Magic by Debi Gliori | 3.63 stars on Goodreads
Add on Goodreads

Carbonel: The King of Cats by Barbara Sleigh | 4.22 stars on Goodreads
Add on Goodreads

The Last Chance Hotel by Nick Thornton | 3.84 stars on Goodreads
Add on Goodreads

cup-on-books

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s