Witches? School story? Magical beasts? Brave, headstrong girls?
Yup, I was sold on this book instantly – it’s as if it was written for me! Luckily, it did more than just tick plot boxes, it was utterly charming and magical. It’s got a wonderful mix of adventure, friendship, and witchery!
Book: The Blue Witch by Alane Adams
Read before: No
Ownership: E-ARC provided by NetGalley for fair review.
I didn’t realise until I had already finished it, but The Blue Witch is a prequel to Adams’ other series, The Legends of Orkney, and focuses on the main character of that series’s mum when she was a child. I thought it stood alone perfectly – nothing was confusing and I felt at home in the world instantly. Abigail felt like a wonderfully realistic character in her own right, and there is no prior knowledge needed to fall in love with her. However, I’m definitely going to be picking up the other books, because there are plenty of hints at the prophecy which forms a major plot point in The Legends of Orkney books.
Abigail was a perfect example of my favourite type of heroine – she’s clever, resourceful, brave and stubborn. And a witch. I really loved getting to know her as she tackled her classes and her bullies, and as she learned about the truth behind her history and the uniqueness of her magic. I loved that sometimes she was extremely logical, and sometimes completely impulsive – it made me like her a lot to see that she was still learning how to handle things. I think I would have worshipped her if I’d have read this as a kid. She’d be great friend with Mildred Hubble, that’s for sure!
The other characters are also very fun, from bully Endora (who we actually find out is bullied herself, by her mother), to the proud and loyal Calla (whose magic hasn’t come in yet), to the inquisitive and supportive Hugo (a non-witch who befriends Abigail). The teachers are an array of weird and wonderful caricatures, which always helps create humour and tension in children’s books. Even Abigail’s mother, who has died well before the story starts, is a vivid presence. I got the sense that there was a lot of complexity to this world, and I can’t wait to read more.
There’s an excellent balance of high stakes and more mundane events – if you’ve been reading for a while, you know that my pet peeve with magical school stories is when there isn’t enough about the actual school! But we get to see several lessons, and the school itself is really well described, so you get a feel for the system and the teachers and the society that they are creating. Towards the end of the book, there’s much more adventure, but the doing-well-at-school plot never fades entirely into the background, which was brilliant. There’s also a spot of Norse mythology thrown in, which brings a slightly more serious aspect to the story, as it hints at machinations on a much larger scale. These will presumably become much more apparent as the story continues.
The Blue Witch was an excellent read, and will quickly become a favourite for any middle grade readers who enjoy a fantastic heroine, an interesting school, and a great adventure. I definitely recommend it if you loved Witch Wars, Witch for a Week or The Worst Witch!
Five out of five witch’s cats!