If you’re looking for a great way to start 2021, I recommend reading The House at the Edge of Magic by Amy Sparkes, with illustrations by Ben Mantle.
Life can be tough, it doesn’t always give you strawberries. Orphan and pickpocket, Nine, knows that only too well. Found abandoned aged three years old, with nothing but a music box, Nine was “taken in” by Pockets, leader of the Nest of a Thousand Treasures. Nine has to steal things for Pockets and the story begins with her finding the catch of the day: a strange, but hopefully valuable, ornamental house.
Nine longs for a home. She takes a moment to imagine living in a real house. She knocks on the tiny ornamental door handle, and that’s when things start to get hilariously crazy. The house grows and grows, seemingly invisible to everyone but Nine.
Inside The House on the Edge of Magic, Nine meets Flabberghast, a wizard, who has a troll housekeeper called Eric and a guest called Dr Spoon (who really is a spoon, in a kilt, looking for his partner, Professor Dish!).
Nine quickly discovers this surreal house and it’s equally bizarre residents have been cursed by a terrible witch. And, most importantly, Nine is the only one who can save them. If only she was so inclined. Except she’s not, or is she? Flabberghast can offer her great riches…
Nine realises that lifting this curse might be her ticket to a new life. But breaking a witch’s curse without any knowledge of magic and a house with a new obstacle behind every door (some of which don’t open but transform you into different things!) is not going to be easy.
Every paragraph of every chapter oozes outlandishly wacky mayhem. I laughed out loud when Nine met Flabberghast’s pet, Wotnearth. Aptly named as no one knows what on earth it is!
This imaginative and quirky story has sparks that reminded me of Oliver Twist, Sirius Black’s magic house in Harry Potter and even the mad hatter’s tea party from Alice in Wonderland. But while there a hints of the familiar, you can never guess what is going to happen next. What’s behind the next door, roaming the garden graveyard, or hiding in the closet? From flying books to hairy pancakes and oversized bird poo, this book has it all.
But at its core, The House at the Edge of Magic is about the friendships between a set of eclectic characters, each with their faults and eccentricities, who will win over your heart and might just convince you that sometimes life can give you strawberries.
Published by Walker Books 7 January 2021
5% of author royalties will be donated to the brilliant baby charity, ICP Support.
I am very grateful to the publisher for providing me with a proof copy of this book. This voluntary review contains my honest opinion.