BooksforTopics Reading for Pleasure Recommendations
Book Title: The House at the Edge of Magic (available here)
Author: Amy Sparkes
Illustrator: Ben Mantle
Publication Date: January 2021
Most Suitable for: Years 4-6
Review by: Jo Clarke
A fast-paced, giggle-filled delight, The House at the Edge of Magic is made for sharing. The story follows the desperate existence of Nine, an Oliver Twist-like character who is orphaned and abandoned. Living in The Nest, Nine must work as a purse-snatcher in order to please Pockets, the grizzly, revolting, leader of the thieflings. Pockets regularly reminds Nine of the hardship of life and is keen to remind her that life doesn’t bring you strawberries. Nine is strong, wilful, resourceful and independent, but above all, she is a child who needs to be loved and deserves to be cared about.
The only comfort in Nine’s lonely life is the sanctuary she seeks from the derelict library under of the care of exasperated librarian, Mr. Downes. The only special possession that Nine has is a small musical box, and the only hope that she has is that once, perhaps once, she was loved.
Having stolen a mysterious object from a young lady in a scarlet dress, Nine is whisked to a world of quirky houses, frogs’ tongues, relocating toilets and sugar bowls with attitude. It is impossible not to laugh at the crazy antics of the goings-on in the house in which Nine now finds herself.
The characters we meet on this crazy, quirky journey are vivid and surreal. Eric is a troll with a penchant for boiled sweets and who keeps house for Flabberghast – a wizard with a flamboyant dress sense. Only in this house would you think that a kilt-wearing spoon was ‘normal’!
The inhabitants of the house must rid their home of a curse cast by a wicked witch and, with the offer of immeasurable riches as a reward, Nine finds herself determined to help. What follows is a whirlwind of hysterical, action-packed occurrences. Something surprising lurks behind every door. There is a cupboard under the stairs of which I am envious – a locked tea cupboard whose handle magically transforms anyone who touches it and only in the garden of this house would you find giant bats with fizzing, sizzling corrosive poo!
Despite the madcap, zany exploits, there is also a gently beating heart at the centre of this tale. Nine emerges wiser and in some ways richer by the end. She learns that, despite Pockets’ cynical view, life can indeed bring you strawberries and that not all treasures are of the material kind.
Keep an eye out for a special guest booklist from author Amy Sparkes coming soon!
Many thanks to the publishers for sending us a review copy and to Review Panel member Jo for reviewing this title.
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