The House At The Edge of Magic by Amy Sparkes & Ben Mantle

The House At The Edge of Magic is a higgledy piggledy house full of secrets, colourful characters and household objects which behave in peculiar ways after being cursed by a witch. The clock is ticking and young pickpocket, Nine, is welcomed with open arms by its quirky residents who are unable to leave their home until the terrible curse has been broken…

The Story: Nine steals an ornamental house from a stranger’s purse and is very surprised when it grows into a very tall, real sized house. She is pulled into the house by the housekeeper, a strange troll like creature, who tells her she’s late. But what’s she late for?

Inside Nine meets an incompetent, hopscotch playing wizard, Flabberghast, Dr Spoon – a Scottish wooden spoon – and learns that the strange creature’s name is Eric. None of them can leave the house while it is cursed.

It’s chaos inside – hilariously odd things happen when the tea cupboard is opened, the books in the library keep rearranging themselves and it’s hard to find a toilet when you need one. There’s a sense of desperation mixed with hope as the residents offer Nine wealth and a new life if she can help them, an attractive proposal which leads to her leaving the poverty stricken basement that she shares with her master, Pockets, and the other pickpockets.

Nine is a poor, defensive protagonist whose circumstances have led to her developing a strong independent streak and a sense of survival. After an initial sense of bafflement she works against the clock to help solve puzzles and clues and uncover family secrets that can help her free the house’s inhabitants from the curse of a villain whose identity surprised us when it was revealed! 

There’s magic on every page – from the interactions between the characters to the bizarre situations that have been created by the curse. The dynamics between the characters lead to quirky and amusing conversations and move the story forward at a fast pace. But the humour is also balanced by the depth of Nine’s emotional journey and the relationships that develop between her and the other characters as she tries to find a sense of belonging. 

Ben Mantle has captured the quirkiness of The House At The Edge of Magic on the cover brilliantly, it’s a higgledy piggledy, crooked house that is invisible to everybody but Nine. Can you spot Flabberghast and Eric with his feather duster? Ben also leaves little clues as to what will happen next in the chapter headings…

We love the originality of the text, the characters and the olde world setting – there is a sense of Victorian England with the inclusion of the pickpockets and their dark underworld. The House At The Edge of Magic is a fabulous character in itself and we look forward to visiting it again 🙂

Age Range: 7 +

Author: Amy Sparkes / Cover illustrator: Ben Mantle

Thank you to Walker Books for sending a review copy of this magical story, we can’t wait to read Nine’s next adventure.

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