Book review: A Sprinkle of Sorcery by Michelle Harrison

ELS librarian Samantha finds the perfect lockdown distraction in Michelle Harrison’s A Sprinkle of Sorcery, sequel to the bestselling A Pinch of Magic.

A Sprinkle of Sorcery

The family curse has been lifted and the Widdershins sisters: Betty, Fliss and Charlie are free to leave the prison island of Crowstone. But when a mysterious girl arrives at the Poacher’s Pocket with a pocketful of hagstones and accompanied by a will-o’-the-wisp, it seems another adventure has landed on their doorstep. And when Charlie goes missing, it’s up to Betty and Fliss to journey through misty marches, past wisp catchers and on to a secret island that doesn’t exist on any map…

When I finished A Pinch of Magic last year, I felt a little bereft. I had spent days immersed in the magical adventures of Betty, Fliss and Charlie Widdershins. I had laughed through numerous cups of tea, caught up in the sisterly squabbles and rat-related drama. I imagined myself in the Poacher’s Pocket – the shabby pub owned by the Widdershins family – listening out for Granny and failing to befriend Oi, the cat. Like the Widdershins sisters, I was determined to find out the secrets of the past – chores be damned. It was as if author Michelle Harrison had performed a magic trick of her own – transporting her readers directly to the island of Crowstone to skulk and sleuth and fight alongside the wonderful Widdershins. Who wouldn’t miss an adventure like that?!

Thankfully, I didn’t have too long to wait until the next book in the series, A Sprinkle of Sorcery, was released.

In A Sprinkle of Sorcery, the Widdershins sisters are pitted against duplicitous warders, bloodthirsty pirates and the restless spirits of the dead. While it has the same humour as A Pinch of Magic, with some truly brilliant one-liners – “I just think it’d be nice for once if we could get back home from an adventure without one of us losing our hair.” – it feels much darker. The mettle of the Widdershins sisters is repeatedly tested as Betty and Fliss, along with the mysterious Willow, cross land, sea and an enchanted island to rescue Charlie and clear the name of Willow’s imprisoned father. Through the sisters – and the friends and enemies they pick up along the way – we see how many ways there are to be brave. The love the sisters have for each other – the knowledge that one sister will always dive into a sunken pirate ship to rescue another – gives them the strength to help others. As much as I loved the adventure of the story (and there is a lot of adventure!), this was my favourite part. While I wait for the next instalment, it is this message – be brave, as brave as you can and maybe a little more – that will stay with me.

In short: this is a sequel that grows with its characters, expanding the world well beyond Crowstone. Young readers will love A Sprinkle of Sorcery’s potion of danger, magic and humour. And Charlie. Everyone will continue to be in awe of Charlie, the most capable six-year-old in modern children’s fiction.

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