The Threads of Magic - Alison Croggon
Published by Walker Books Australia
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Thanks to Walker Books for providing me with a review copy.
Pip lives on his wits in the city of Clarel. When he pickpockets the wrong man, he finds himself in possession of a strange object – a heart in a silver casket. What’s more, the heart seems to be trying to communicate with Pip, and the royal officials who lost it will stop at nothing to get it back.
Pip has unwittingly broken an ancient spell, and his theft will have far-reaching consequences for the whole city. As the ancient war between the Spectres and witches of Clarel reignites, the heart prepares to seek revenge for all it has suffered…
Fantasy is one of those genres I know I like, but forget how much because I don’t read it that often. I think this is mostly due to the fact I find it easier to read lots of stand-alone books, and fantasy tends to come as a series with too-long wait periods between books. This is one of the reasons I feel so excited when I can read stand-alone fantasy. When I first heard of The Threads of Magic I knew I wanted to read it.
There is something truly special about good writing for children that is hard to articulate. Alison’s words are beautifully crafted but really accessible. I think she has honed the perfect way to write middle grade (or middle reader, whatever we're supposed to call it here) so as not to alienate kids at any reading level. Not patronising, totally engrossing, with beautiful use of language.
When I read the first page of The Threads of Magic I got that special “oh right, I love this” feeling. I was immediately sucked into the world Alison Croggon has created. Solid world-building can be difficult in fantasy - which is probably why there are often so many books in a series - and she manages to execute a totally immersive world, with a complete magic system as well as develop compelling characters. Everything fitted together and flowed into a thrilling and uncertain (in the best way) adventure.
The story was imaginative, with many unexpected elements. I liked how each character fitted into the overall plot. The narrative points of view switched seamlessly and really added to the depth of the story. The children were perfectly flawed, scared and brave, each in their own way.
I thought the book showed a really intriguing way to explore the ways the world and our experiences shape us - the choices we have to make and the ways we relate to other people - as well as how such shaping is different for different people. It managed to show the systemic impacts of power as well as having sinister dark forces to defeat.
The Threads of Magic is a fabulous fantasy adventure that anyone can enjoy, but I especially recommend it for ages 9+ (I personally have recommended it to sisters aged 9, 15, 24 and 28). It explores themes of difference, power, courage and friendship.
Total side note: how gorgeous is the cover?!