What a super book for the summer holidays. Cat Gray's debut MG adventure 'Spellstoppers' is a real treat: whimsical, unique, fun and bursting with non-stop invention. Those who like magical stories with a twist, will love this!
Welcome to Yowling - a secretive seaside village where magic is just one step away... Max has spent years thinking he is cursed, because whenever he touches anything electrical it explodes. But then he is sent to Yowling and discovers he is a Spellstopper, someone with the rare ability to drain dangerous build-ups of magic and fix misbehaving enchanted items. When Max's Grandad is kidnapped by the cruel Keeper of the malfunctioning magical castle that floats in the bay, only Max's gift can save him...
The opening chapters of 'Spellstoppers' instantly pull you in with Max causing mayhem when he touches anything electrical. It is a lot of fun but also helps the reader to develop significant empathy for Max early on - he is no hero yet. The concept then that Max is a Spellstopper is a fabulously unique twist on the chosen one motif. Usually our hero conjures incredible magic; here Max re-balances magic or stops it entirely. I really liked this idea and the subsequent challenges Max faces to calm himself enough to successfully 'spellstop'. It feels like an allegory of our busy world: we are constantly bombarded by technological magic and materialism, and sometimes it's tough to find our inner calm. How Max transforms is well-realised and punch-the-air triumphant.
On top of this, Cat Gray's imagination is as wild and inventive as a surrealist painter causing mischief on holiday at the seaside. There are runaway kettles, psychic ice creams, transforming selkies, ghost captains and terrorising owls. The story evokes startling scenes of phantasmagorical delight and horror like a fever dream that jolts with electrical surprises while buzzing with undercurrents of yearning and heart. I loved the grumpy yet caring Grandad and Max's smart and loyal friend Kit. There is so much to enjoy and the pace never lets up. Fans of the 'Eerie-on-Sea' series, 'The Storm Keeper's Island' and 'The Lightning Catcher' will love this too. Great fun!