I read this book while travelling. And I quite enjoyed it.
The main character, Annabel is…a most magical girl. And she has no idea because in one of the everlasting traditions of children’s fantasy/adventure stories she has no idea until something happens that means she must do her best and learn quickly. Annabel’s mother sends Annabel to live with her two aunts, who are standoffish and have little time for the fact that Annabel does not understand her gifts but they do so in such a way that you know they care even if they are no good at showing it or actually caring. Then, a terrible darkness threatens to swallow London whole, a darkness connected to Annabel in a very personal way, and she…as a most magical girl, must stop it.
There are all the things you would expect:
- A lack of adults (this forces/gives children the opportunity to fend for themselves and develops a sense of independence and autonomy),
- A prophecy (because she has no idea she’s a witch let along knowing how to save all of London but there is a prophecy so no one else will do),
- A ‘friend’ who starts of as an adversary and pushes Annabel to be more and better and to accept herself throughout the book,
- And obviously ends up being a proper friend just in case you were wondering.
- A series of challenges that allow Annabel to show her strength and to explore her beliefs about her own abilities (always more than she thinks she has) and challenge her fears,
- A magical world not that far removed from our own. This book falls into that magical category that Harry Potter also inhibits, where magic exists in the world we just don’t know about it.
- A magical land connected to the ‘real’ world that they must visit to learn and defeat the bad guy,
- A bad guy…who is suitably evil but not quite as terrifying as some other children’s book villains,
- A happy ending. We can put up with all sorts of darkness with the promise of a happy ending. [And I freely admit I must prefer reading happy ending stories than the ones that make you sad and cry even as an adult and there is nothing wrong with that :)]
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It caught my interest from the blurb and kept it right until the end.
I would recommend the book for anyone who enjoys a good mystery, with a little information about Victorian London, and a healthy dose of magical fantasy. Especially kids/kids at heart who aren’t quite ready for EVIL in their books.