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City of Stolen Magic

Authored by Nazneen Ahmed Pathak
Published by Penguin Random House Children's UK

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On the outskirts of a small Indian village in 1855, Chompa and her mother eke out a living, providing magic charms to the community. The writing magic seems boring and slow to Chompa, and she is desperate to use the other magical skills, finger magic, that she possesses. Her mother is only too aware of the danger they would be in if she did, and her worst fears are realised when they are attacked and Ammi is kidnapped by members of the Eastern Merchant Company, owned by Sir Clive Devaynes. Chompa sets out on a dangerous journey to rescue her. This takes her from the bustling city of Dacca to the East End of London, stowing away on a ship propelled by magical forces. Once in London, Chompa realises that in order to save her mother, she will have to become part of Sir Clive’s treacherous plan to harness magic, exploiting her own rare gift. With others relying on her to outwit him, Chompa must summon all her courage alongside her skills.

Weaving untold elements of British colonial history with vivid fantasy, the author has created a gripping adventure. Encompassing themes of friendship, magic, and self-discovery, the author also explores history from the other viewpoint, highlighting the injustices and exploitation of India’s people and resources. Chompa discovers a vibrant, diverse East End community which young readers might not be aware existed in the Victorian era. Read alongside Stolen History by Sathnam Sanghera, a very accessible introduction to the British Empire for children, the book offers plenty of opportunity for discussion and further research if used as a group or class reader in upper Key Stage 2. Young fantasy fans will also find plenty to enjoy.

Longlisted for the Brandford Boase Award 2024