BooksforTopics Reading for Pleasure Recommendations
Book Title: Storm Witch
Author: Ellen Renner
Publisher: Nosy Crow
Publication Date: September 2018
Most Suitable For: Years 5-6
When I received the proof copy of Storm Witch I knew from the start that this was to be the kind of book I would enjoy reading. The blurb promised fantasy and powerful magic as well as themes of identity and acceptance, not to mention vengeful pirates and floating islands! Storm Witch is the first in a new series from Ellen Renner and to my delight it met my hopeful expectations and turned out to be even more thrilling than I'd imagined.
13-year-old Storm and her peers are about to undertake The Choosing; an important ceremony that will determine the course of the rest of their lives by seeing them claimed by one the four Elementals of Air, Water, Earth or Fire. In Storm’s self-sufficient island community, modern technology is non-existent and each person contributes to the community through his or her manual work, such as growing food, firing pots or weaving clothing. The Elemental to which each young person belongs sets the path for the type of apprenticeship and work they will go on to receive.
In a highly unusual course of events, Storm is claimed by not one but three Elementals, revealing to the village Elders that she has the powers of a witch. Nobody is able to understand Storm’s powers but when the Drowned Ones attack the community, Storm soon faces important decisions about how to harness her powers and do what is right in the face of adversity.
The world-building in this story is wonderful and evocative, with the fantasy elements seamlessly woven into an almost-recognisable community setting. What I enjoyed the most was the carefully drawn tension between the island community (governed by classification of people and identity) and the authenticity of the characters that naturally evade obvious categories. Not only does Storm fail to fit into a single Elemental category, she also has to navigate the islanders’ approach to gender roles and their ideas about how to deal with human enemies. Throughout the story, the traditional attitudes of the Elders – with their years of wisdom and experience of keeping the island safe - are at odds with the new mindset represented by Storm and there are no easy solutions by the end about which approach will triumph. I am looking forward to seeing how this aspect develops in the rest of the series.
A thrilling and powerful read full of danger and magic, I’m highly recommending this for Upper KS2.
Storm Witch by Ellen Renner is published on 6th September by Nosy Crow in paperback priced £6.99
Many thanks to the publisher for kindly sending me a review copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour. Check out the other blogs involved to see the rest of the tour.