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Book Review: Shadows of Winterspell by Amy Wilson


' Stella has been living behind the magic of the forest for most of her life. Lonely, she enrolls at the local school, and as she begins to make friends, she discovers that she is even more different than she thought. But as autumn turns to magical winter, Stella realizes that uncovering her own family secret is the only way to release the forest from the grip of a dark and old magic.'


Shadows of Winterspell is a delightful and magical read for those seeking escapism. Stella lives with Nan and Peg in the woods, who turn out to be a ghost and an imp. Nan is overprotective and bans Stella from exploring the depths of the forest as it is magic and 'dangerous', so without Nan's permission, Stella starts attending school to make new friends. Unlike most fantasy novels, this one takes the Little Mermaid narrative - Stella doesn't want to be magical, she wants to be 'normal' and blend in with everyone else. This fits in well with the saying, 'don't dim your own light for others'.

The relationship between Stella and Nan is interesting - Nan represents a helicopter parent who means well, but metaphorically and literally hovers over Stella at every opportunity, making her rules stricter and isolating Stella more and more from the outside world the weaker she becomes, and the more curious Stella becomes. Nan only wants to keep Stella safe but her tight, stifling grip pushes Stella towards rebellion.

The imagery in this novel is enchanting, and the themes are perfect for younger children interested in fae and fantasy. The game Dungeons and Dragons is making a resurgence with younger individuals since the release of Stranger Things, so Shadows of Winterspell would be perfect for any child showing interest in such games and shows. There is also once again an interest in witches with younger girls as of late, a callback from the 90s, so this book would suit similarly for that niche. Certainly a crowd-pleaser!

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