Book Reviews

Review: Starfell – Willow Moss and the Magic Thief

You probably know by now that I really love the Starfell series, and the fourth book is no exception!

Book: Starfell: Willow Moss and the Lost Day by Dominique Valente, illustrated by Sarah Warburton

Publication date: 3rd March 2022

Ownership: Review copy sent free of charge by Harper Collins. All opinions my own.

Starfell is on the edge of disaster. The fight against Silas, the wizard determined to steal all magic for himself, is far from over – but how can Willow make a difference when her powers have been taken? With the help of her friends, the young witch sets off to the treacherous Mountains of Nach. There, she hopes to find the Craegun, a powerful beast believed to restore anything that has been lost – for a heavy price. The mission is fraught with danger, but there’s no turning back . . . or the magic of Willow’s world will be lost forever. The epic fourth adventure in the Starfell series is a powerful celebration of kindness, resilience and equality.

The Starfell books are probably my favourite current middle grade series – it’s got witches, adventure, a magical creature that looks like a cat and says ‘oh no’ a lot… There’s something so very lovely about these books, and this fourth book is a great continuation. If you’re totally new to the series, make sure to check out my reviews of books one and two – my review of the first book, in particular, does a good job of summing up all the themes and elements that make this series so completely my cup of tea, from a practical heroine and magic with capital-R rules, to the importance of self-belief and kindness. I do also have to take a moment to shout out the fantastic illustrations! Whether it’s a dragon swooping through the air or a quiet character moment, Sarah Warburton’s art is the perfect match for Starfell’s magical feel, really evoking a sense of wonder at the world.

In this adventure, Willow has no magic at all – so how is she supposed to defeat the wizard who stole it? Well, by relying on her friends, and in a series like this, there are lots of friends to rely on. There’s a real ‘getting the gang back together’ feel to a lot of this book, as Willow meets back up with old acquaintances – on the one hand, it’s just nice to see everyone again, and on the other it makes for the very important theme that working together makes them much more powerful than they would be individually. There are fabulous, subtle discussions of health conditions both mental and physical, and how doing your best doesn’t always mean doing everything yourself, or working as hard as you can to your own detriment. Often blurbs are a bit over-the-top with their praise, but the Starfell series really does feel like a ‘celebration of kindness’, both to the people around you and to yourself.

I don’t know if there are more books planned in the series (this definitely felt like it could function as a farewell, but the acknowledgements call it the ‘latest’, not the ‘last’, Starfell book) but I really hope there are, because I’m not ready to say goodbye to Willow and Oswin! Five out of five cats kobolds!

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