‘Sometimes it takes a little courage to discover magic.’
Lina, a brave and quick-witted eleven-year-old, has lived all her life in a brutal Russian prison camp, hidden away in the perilous, frozen wilderness. She becomes part of a daring escape plot and, along with her best friend, Bogdan, attempts to journey to freedom. However, this is not just a tale of survival against the elements – there have always been rumours of magic, shadow-wolves and evil lurking in the woodlands - but Lina begins a journey of self-discovery and finds she has abilities she never knew about. Lina’s story is also one about personal growth and her character reminded me of Lyra in Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. Other characters' stories slowly interconnect and are well fleshed out and developed.
I enjoyed this quick-moving story immensely. Lina is instantly likable and easy to empathise with. The initial setting of a Russian labour camp is a unique element which hooked me in further. The magical elements of the story are slowly introduced as the narrative progresses – characters scoff at magic to begin with but all (including some of Lina's bulking, ruthless fellow escapees) are instantly terrified when they first encounter supernatural elements.
Katharine Orton’s writing is clear and captivating. Nevertell is a magical, snowy adventure, best appreciated snuggled-up on the sofa on a wet and windy afternoon.