The House at the Edge of Magic by Amy Sparkes
Published by Walker Books Australia
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I received a review copy from the publisher.
Nine is an orphan pickpocket determined to escape her life in the Nest of a Thousand Treasures. When she steals a house-shaped ornament from a mysterious woman's purse, she knocks on its tiny door and watches it grow into a huge, higgledy-piggeldy house.
Inside she finds a host of magical and brilliantly funny characters, including Flabberghast – a young wizard who’s particularly competitive at hopscotch – and a hideous troll housekeeper who’s emotionally attached to his feather duster. They have been placed under an extraordinary spell, which they are desperate for Nine to break. If she can, maybe they can offer her a new life in return…
This will be a pretty short review as I'm still struggling a lot with concentration, but I wanted to get it up anyway.
The House at the Edge of Magic by Amy Sparks is a funny magical adventure for young readers (mid-Primary). I found it to be an entertaining read, with a fast-paced plot and quirky characters.
It could work well for children as an introduction to fantasy stories, with lots of magical elements and stakes that feel high but aren’t too scary. It feels very inspired by Diana Wynne Jones, though it’s not quite at the same level.
I really enjoyed Nine’s cynicism and how she didn’t dramatically change throughout the book. She was still herself, she’d just opened up a bit, and there’s a lot of room for further character development. I liked that it was very subtle. The other characters were amusing, and I am interested to see what happens with them in the future.
I would recommend it for the younger end of middle-grade readers, or for kids that want more complex stories but aren’t yet confident readers. I also think it would also be a fun story to read together as a family with kids of varying ages.
I believe the second book will be out soon, and I think there’s definitely potential for Amy Sparkes to create an enjoyable and satisfying series.
Amy Sparkes studied English Literature and Theology at the University of Kent, and began writing after moving to Devon with her husband, six young children and an overactive imagination. You can find her online via her website.