First Published: Mar 2013 (Paperback)
No .of pages: 416
Synopsis (from Amazon):
“It doesn’t matter. I have books, new books, and I can bear anything as long as there are books.” Fifteen-year-old Morwenna lives in Wales with her twin sister and a mother who spins dark magic for ill. One day, Mori and her mother fight a powerful, magical battle that kills her sister and leaves Mori crippled. Devastated, Mori flees to her long-lost father in England. Adrift, outcast at boarding school, Mori retreats into the worlds she knows best: her magic and her books. She works a spell to meet kindred souls and continues to devour every fantasy and science fiction novel she can lay her hands on. But danger lurks… She knows her mother is looking for her and that when she finds her, there will be no escape.
The best description of this book is a quote on the back cover from Patrick Rothfuss “Funny, touching and gently magical”. I couldn’t have summed it up any better.
Whilst the synopsis tells us of a great tale of good versus evil, of magic and spells and of a long standing magical battle; the book is much more understated. It is written as a diary from Mori’s point of view where the magic almost takes a back seat to the everyday, general goings on of a teenage girl. There is a very fine balance between Mori’s coming of age story and the magic and mystery of the world she has grown up with and Jo Walton has achieved it perfectly. We are with Mori through her struggles with family and school life as well as attempting to negotiate the minefield which is the opposite sex, whilst at the same time and almost as casually, she is attempting to understand the murky and tangled world of magic and spells that has been with her all her life and led to the loss of her sister.
Jo Walton has managed to take a magical story and bring it right back to an everyday setting to which we can all relate. This book is not a rip-roaring adventure of magical hijinks and escapism. It is more an everyday world with a magical undercurrent. The pace is slow but continuous and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish.