17th March, 2019

Review: A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison (Simon and Schuster)

On the mysterious, marsh-bound isle of Crowstone, three sisters - Betty, Fliss and Charlie - live imprisoned by a curse that has trapped their family for generations. But each of the sisters holds a secret, three magical objects passed down to them, each with a different enchanted property: an old traveling bag, a nest of dolls and a gilt-framed mirror. Together they hope to use their inheritance to defeat the curse upon them.

This is the type of daring and dainty story I would have absolutely gone crazy over as a child. Michelle Harrison is a wonderful and talented writer as well as an expert in creating atmosphere. This book is a quest for survival, including magical objects, brave heroines and cunning plotting and it is simply a middle grade gem of a story: beautifully written by an author who knows how to make every sentence and phrase count. The reader is quickly swept up in the mystery surrounding the Widdershins family (what a name! <3 ) and breathlessly follows the three sisters' fate. 

Harrison's characters are for the most part multi-dimensional and believeable. The only issue I had was with Fliss, who - compared to Betty and Charlie - comes across as rather flat. She's shown as the stereotypical vain, slightly less intelligent village beauty, which I found didn't do her justice. While I understand that the story at some point needs to put its focus on one of the sisters - and I do love that this was Betty - I think that at least Fliss could have been developed a bit better (hence, my detracting of half a star). Charlie, on the other hand, is just adorable and feisty - a character you cannot but adore. 

What had me hooked in this story was the wonderful atmosphere. The scene on the water when Colton and Betty trick Fingerty was pure gold and with Harrison's knack for painting a vivid image of night on the marshes, I was constantly waiting for things to appear in the mist. So two thumbs up for giving me a few goosebumps. Also, the elements of betrayal and revenge sweep the reader along in this spellbinding tale. It is an enticing and dark story with a finely crafted plot. 

So put away your mobile phones and jump into an adventure. Crowstone and the Widdershins are waiting for you. 

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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