A Pinch of Magic is a quest story filled with magic and adventure and with three compelling characters at its heart. It tells the story of the three Widdershin sisters, very different in character, but bound together by their past and their destiny and three enchanted objects. Betty, the middle of the three sisters, longs for adventure. Determined to escape the drudgery of life with their Granny at the Poacher’s Pocket and explore the world beyond the mists and marshes of Crowstone island, Betty is forever dreaming up plans to escape the island. But it isn’t long before her rebellion and wanderlust take her into a world she is barely prepared for; a world of danger and a terrible family curse. And she doesn’t end up there alone. Her sisters, Fliss and Charlie, end up at her side and, together, they must find a way to overcome the danger they are in and break the curse.
There are echoes of classical fairy tales and legends threaded throughout this story: witches locked in towers, everyday objects imbued with magic, a misty marshland setting, family secrets and an ancient curse. Harrison has given her tale a distinctively refreshing twist, placing three heroines at the heart of the plot, who fight to put past injustices right, aided and abetted by men they come across along the way. Harrison has developed the characters in the book with great skill. All three girls have very distinctive, and flawed, characters and they must learn to grow into their strengths, face their failings and make the most of their differences to work as a team and ensure their survival. There are many moments in the book when the girls are faced with uncomfortable truths and difficult decisions as they slowly learn to make the most of their strong family bond and appreciate what they’ve had all along. The plot’s ongoing twists and turns leave you unsure how things will end.
I enjoyed this book. The fast pace of events and adventure make this a great page-turner while the depth of characters and the themes, messages and morals threaded throughout, as well as the links that can be made to traditional fairy tales and legends, provide opportunities for rich reflection and discussion. As a bonus, there is a great little quiz included at the end which readers can take to see which character they most closely match and what their character’s strengths and important lessons might be.
I would suggest that A Pinch of Magic is most suitable for readers in lower secondary. I would particularly recommend it as a text with strong female role models.
You may be interested in or podcast with Michelle Harrison
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