I am unashamedly a huge fan of all things wizard and witch related, largely thanks to the book series that shall not be named. So it was with great excitement and anticipation that I dove into Dominique Valente’s first book in a new magical series.
Not all magic powers are useful or even that exciting, just ask Willow Moss. The youngest and least powerful witch of the Moss family. Not gifted with the ability to fly or become invisible, Willow has the power to find lost things. Willow is used to the ordinary folk of Starfell lining up outside her family home to ask for her help in locating their lost possessions. So when Moreg Vaine, the most feared witch in Starfell, comes asking for help things take a dramatic turn. For Last Tuesday, yes the actual day, has disappeared and no-one can recall anything that happened on the day. It is up to Willow and her ‘fetching’ abilities to carefully bring Tuesday back, very carefully in fact or the world might end.
Starfell is a delightful read and I loved everything about it. Full of fast-paced action, colourful characters, magical places, plenty of humour and a cracking yet unsuspecting heroine in Willow. Willow is the odd one in her family - she is overlooked, mocked for her pointless magic and being the youngest of three daughters, she receives hand me downs from other family members. Her only ally is Granny Flossy - who is a bit of an odd ball herself. It is because Willow is such an unlikely heroine that she is such a likeable character embodying messages of friendship, courage and determination. Her vulnerability and the constant feeling of not being quite good enough has the reader rooting for her and her realisation that it’s not what talent you have but how you use the talent that matters is a valuable lesson for any reader - old or young. Ultimately, Willow shows the reader that it is more than OK to just be yourself.
Valente has created a spell-binding world complete with all the things you would expect to find in a book with magic at it’s heart - hag stones, potions, trolls, dragons, a cat, oubliers, seers, forgotten tellers, spells, broomsticks and witches burnt at the stake. Starfell itself is a beautifully depicted world full of warmth, humour, magic and danger. Each location is unique and has it’s own individual quirks - from Troll Country to the Midnight Market to The Cloud Mountains - there is something to delight in and be frightened of in each place. My favourite place was Radditch, home of The Broom Woods. A place where brooms are made - each with their own personalities with no two being alike. I quite fancy a trip there with Willow and Moreg to find my perfect flying broom - I imagine I would opt for something of a stealth-racer hybrid.
Accompanying Willow on her adventures are a mix of wonderfully named and colourful characters - Oswin, the terrifying monster from under the bed (who does seem to possess characteristics more associated with a cat than a monster), Nolin Sometimes, Featherling, Calamity and Essential. Oswin is my personal favourite - offering comedy, sarcasm and advice throughout from the comfort of a bag.
The beautiful black and white illustrations by Sarah Warbuton are an excellent accompaniment to the text and the short chapters make it an easily accessible read. Perfect magical reading for 8+. Very much looking forward to revisiting Starfell and joining Willow on her next adventure.
“Magic is like life - it’s what you do with it that counts.”