Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson


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Arriman, evil dark wizard, would like that the prophecy about a darker wizard to take his place would come true, so to leave his works and pursue other hobbies. However, no wizard has come to take his place, and the only option seems to be marring and having an evil wizard child, but how to choose a wife?

Arriman’s secretary, a practical man, determines that the wife should be a witch, skilled in dark magic, and what’s better than a competition to find the skilled witch? All the witches of the area readily join the contest, and within them also Belladonna, a nice and gentle white witch, who would like to be dark and evil.

Which Witch? is an extremely nice book: the protagonists are fun and crazy, but also tremendously evil, and the story mixes positive values with horrible images (the scene with the rats is disgusting).

I always like when children books are not sugary (to stay in theme, it’s impossible to forget The Witches by Roald Dahl).

Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson ★★★★☆

*I read this book in italian


[ARC] Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones


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London, 1818. In a short time Annis has notice of her father’s death and that all the money are gone. The only chance for the girl and her aunt is to leave their London house, to move to the country and to look for work.

Annis discovers to have a magic skill: she can sew glamours, so the dress she creates are able to totally disguise the people wearing them.

She wants to use her talent to help the english spies, also because she is convinced her father was a spy himself. Since at the beginning nobody gives her credit, she impersonates Madame Martine, dressmaker.

The novel has a good potential, but they could have been better exploited, like the idea to mix magic and spionage. Unfortunately, Annis spends most of the time in getting hold of her talent. She has great determination, but the main feature that emerges from the novel it’s her naivete, while minor characters take all the action. In the end I found it boring, because I expected something more.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.

* Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones ★★☆☆☆½

*I read this book in english

[ARC] Rotherweird by Andrew Caldecott


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Rotherweird is a strange town: it’s in England but it is completely independent administratively, it’s almost inaccessible and it’s forbidden to study history before 1800.

Two external however come into the town: Jonah Oblong, who has to teach modern history to the local school, and Sir Veronal Slickstone, who was allowed to renew the old Manor House.

It’s evident that Sir Veronal has other evil plans, and for this reason some of the town’s inhabitants will have to share old secrets and to discover the old and forbidden history of Rotherweird.

The novel alternates the present events to ones from the past (1500 ca.) that clarify why the town was born and the reason why it is forbidden to study history.

In my opinion the book is engaging from the half, in the beginning I found difficult to sort plot and characters (they have strange names that I found easy to confuse).

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.

* Rotherweird by Andrew Caldecott ★★★☆☆

*I read this book in english

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab


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Third and last novel in the Shades of Magic series (the trilogy begins with A darker shade of magic and continues with A Gathering of Shadows), A Conjuring of Light throws the reader in the full of the action, since the previous novel ended when things began to be interesting. Kell was kidnapped and brought to White London, Lila was going after him and Holland was under the force of black power.

In this novel the city that needs to be saved is Red London, Kell’s home, since the creature born in Black London aims in owing all the magic flowing in the Red city.

Holland, free from the control of the evil power, Kell and Lila, the three Antari, are the only people who seem able to own enough power to face the enemy, that is taking control of the city in the meanwhile.

I avoid further details, not to spoil the story, and I come to my opinion: A conjuring of light is a beautiful novel, fast paced and compelling: there are no boring moments, the characters face adventure in various settings, and the worldbuild and character design is very well done. During the story the author takes time also to develop the characters, that interacts coherently to the premises set till now. I particularly enjoyed the decision to talk a bit more of Holland’s past, since he has been a character mostly driven by events (and I still love Lila, so bold and ironic).

I feared during the whole book to be disappointed by the ending, but it was as good as the rest the novel. I think Shades of Magic is a great series and I suggest it to the lovers of the genre, (moreover the USA books have wonderful covers), as well as other novels by Victoria Shwab, original and engaging readings.

*A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab ★★★★★

*I read this book in english

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire


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It can happen that a child (probably a girl) finds an unexpected passage, a door to a magical reality.

Some of them never come back, other for some reasons come back to the reality we know about, and some feels melancholic for what they left behind: a world where they can finally be themselves; these desperately try to find a way to go back.

Nancy, white hair with five black locks, spent a few years in the xxxx  regno del signore della morte, where she learned to stay still as a statue, and she was asked to go back to her life to test her will

“Their love wanted to fix her, and refused to see that she wasn’t broken”

Unable to fit her old life, her parents send them to the Eleanor West’s school for Wayward children, where the owner hosts all the nostalgic children back from other worlds.

Nancy become friend with some of the students, but soon after her arrival tragic events happen, and the school is in great danger.

Every heart a doorway is an engaging book, full of imaginative elements; the most intriguing part – more than the horror / crime one – is the description of the magical lands the children went to, and the creation of a classification system (high logic vs high nonsense, the evil and the good ones,…). The characters are well-developed, both as visitors of enchanted worlds and as normal adolescents.It

The book was able to bring me away from the world we know for a few lovely hours (and there follow up books are coming!).

* Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire ★★★★☆½

*I read this book in english

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine


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Ella lives in a magical world, and after her birth a fairy gave her a gift: obedience. Hardly to define it a gift, since Ella is now forced to obey every order she receives, otherwise she will suffer great pains.

The girl is very attached to her mother, who dies when Ella is still a girl, and her father – a serious merchant who would do anything for money – begins to see an insufferable rich woman, mother of two insufferable and evil girls.

Ella Enchanted is a smart retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale (it won the Newbery Honor prize) where Ella grows up by facing various situations, even unpleasant ones, and she shows that sometimes a girl is able to save herself, without the need of a saving prince.

The story is well-built: there are evident reference to the original fairy tale, but the story is enriched by other elements, even funny ones, like fairy Lucinda and her dramatic gift, intended for good.

* Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine ★★★★☆

*I read this book in Italian

[ARC] The Blood Card (DI Stephens & Max Mephisto #3) by Elly Griffiths


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Third novel with DI Stephens and the magician Max Mephisto (here the first and here the second book of the series).

It’s almost coronation day for young queen Elizabeth, and Edgar Stephens has two murder cases to deal with: Madame Zabini, fortune-teller of Romanian origins, and Colonel Cartwright. This second murder becomes soon important – the man was the responsible of the magic men, the group both Edgar and Max belonged to in WWII – and also Max Mephisto is involved in the case, because on the body an ace of hearts card was found, the blood card in the illusionist world.

The inquiry will bring Edgar also in the United States, and soon the hints point to an anarchist group some people belonging to the variety world.

Like the previous novel, this book is a nice read, however I think here it’s almost impossible for the reader to guess the murderer; I have also some doubts about how many books could be based on such two different characters who have also very different works (and how many other reference to the magic men could be used). Similarly to other series we can follow here the evolution of the main characters (Max has to face the advent of television) and their relationships.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.

* The Blood Card by Elly Griffiths ★★★☆☆

*I read this book in english