Shadows of Winterspell by Amy Wilson & Helen Crawford-White

Shadows of Winterspell combines secrets, friendship, magic and reality in a page turning novel that had us gripped until the end. Stella’s family secrets are threatening the safety of the creatures that live in Winterspell Forest and when she makes new friends at school she realises that facing these secrets is the key to driving the shadows away and making the forest safe again.

The Story: Twelve year old Stella’s parents are dead and Stella lives with her ghostly grandmother, Nan, an imp called Peg and her cat, Teacake, on the edge of Winterspell Forest. Dark magical forces inhabit the forest and Nan and Pip do their best to protect Stella from them. But Stella is lonely and against Nan’s wishes she enrols at the local school.

Stella is surprised to discover that she is not the only non human at Broadmere Academy. She makes friends with Yanny, who lives with his family in Winterspell Forest, and Zara who has recently moved to the area.

As Stella spends more time with her friends and makes a dangerous journey with Yanny to visit his family she realises that the dark shadows that Nan and Peg are trying to protect her from are linked to The Shadow King. The forest fae are constantly fighting against him but Stella is the only one who can really help them…

Stella leads a simple life. She tends her garden, makes jam and learns old spells that will keep her safe – she is neither fae nor human and her identity and her home are protected by Nan’s magic. But Stella is lonely and this loneliness drives her to disobey her grandmother. Enrolling at school gives her the sense of belonging that she needs but also exposes her differences and evokes a sense of guilt that she is somehow responsible for the bitter magic that threatens the forest.

The world building in this story is truly magical. Shadows of Winterspell moves between home, forest and school, each influence the others, but as the novel is written in the first person we experience Stella’s emotions, uncertainties and her quest to discover her identity firsthand. Her struggle to comprehend the school timetable is mixed with her curiosity about Yanny’s magic and her first impressions of Winterspell Forest and its magical inhabitants.

Stella’s story is a quest on many levels – she’s trying to come to terms with her past and how it impacts on her present and future as well as the present and future of the forest’s sprites, faes, centaurs and imps. She’s a brave and inspirational heroine and the mental and physical journeys that she makes as she prepares to confront The Shadow King are inspiring.

Age Range: 9 +

Author: Amy Wilson / Illustrator Helen Crawford-White

Thank you Pan Macmillan for sending a review copy of Shadows of Winterspell, we were totally immersed in Stella’s magical experiences and would love to see her, Zara and Yanny in another story.

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