Shadows of Winterspell is an enchanting fantasy read that sparkles with magic and mystery. The front cover is gorgeous too - this one is just begging to be picked up off the bookshelf.
Welcome to Winterspell…For years Stella has been kept safe from the forest of Winterspell, hidden in a cottage on the fringes of the forest and surrounded by protective charms. She has led an isolated and lonely life, her only company her nan (who just so happens to have died years ago), Peg the imp and a cat called Teacake. Nan has forbidden Stella from entering the neighbouring forest as it is full of dark magic and dangerous shadows unleashed by the Shadow King after he became tormented by grief and sorrow. And a war rages in the forest between and these shadows and the magical fae who live there.
Stella has been raised on magic spells and charms but wants more than anything to be ‘normal’. The local high school offers a chance for Stella to fit it and to have the friends that she so desperately craves. But the school harbours secrets too and Stella will learn about a legend that will change everything. For she is tied to the forest and its dark magic in ways far beyond what her nan has ever told her. It is Stella’s father who is responsible for the darkness that has engulfed Winterspell and when the time comes it will be up to Stella to find the hidden palace and face the Shadow King. For it is only she that can free Winterspell from the dark curse and bring light back to the fae community.
Wilson has created a unique magical world full of faeries, imps, centaurs, trolls and sprites. There is a real fairy tale feel to the read - a granny living in a cottage, dangerous journeys through a forest, hidden palaces, fairy tale characters living under the ground. There is an interesting contrast to the two worlds in which the action occurs - the modern world where the school is set and then a magical world set within - and there is something unique and intriguing about this.
I really enjoyed the top-trumps style pages that provided details of the different inhabitants of Winterspell and compared their magical powers. In contrast to many books that are populated with magic, the magic in this book is not to be taken lightly. There is not a wand, cauldron or witch (or wizard) in sight. There is real danger lurking and the magic is needed to survive.
Themes of friendship and family are an integral part to the story. It is the very people that Stella makes friends with at school, Yanny and Zara, that will stand beside her as she battles the Shadow King. And whilst Stella portrays a lack of self-belief, it is her friends that provide her with the confidence that she is capable of doing the unexpected.
Readers will love exploring the world of Winterspell and searching for the palace hidden within. A read that encourages children to be brave and choose their own path and ultimately find their own place in the world. Just beware of the shadows and don’t forget your fae-light.
Recommended for 9+.