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James Nicol's 'The Spell Tailors' is an absolute joy. Warm, magical and endearing, it's a story that wraps you up in its spell like the best winter scarf. Exploring the threads of memory that shape and give hope to a family, 'The Spell Tailors' has characters to cherish while it feels almost a little bit festive. A great book to purchase as a Christmas present - particularly with its beautifully intricate cover!

Hen dreams of joining the family spell-tailor business, making magical homemade outfits. But the shop is struggling, thanks to the cheap clothing factory that has opened nearby. Stumbling upon a stitch - one that can sew memories into seams - Hen thinks he has the answer that will save them. Instead, he's shocked to be banned from sowing forever. What is going on? And can he unravel the mystery before it's too late? 

As with the fabulous 'Apprentice Witch', James Nicol is brilliant at conjuring up new worlds that feel authentically enchanting. 'The Spell Tailors' offers something new: a whimsical, alternate Victorian era, where bespoke garments can be stitched together for magical purposes, even to hold memories. It's a fantastic concept; one that will entice children who love fashion. When my daughter is older I know this is a book that she'd love to read for that reason! 


James Nicol's greatest talent is in creating characters that seem to live beyond the pages; characters that are warm, fully-rounded and who we deeply care for. In 'The Spell Tailors' there is something eccentrically Dickensian about the characters, but also something of akin to the kind of characters filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki seems to bring to life. In fact, 'The Spell Tailors' would make an amazing Studio Ghibli film - James Nicol's has been compared to a modern day Dianne Wynne Jones and one of her books became an animation with them! 


'The Spell Tailors' is heartwarming but with threads of threat, it's intimate but also expansive. I loved Hen and how much he wishes to prove himself - the ending left me with a huge smile on my face!  And his beloved Nana! Oh, she was wonderful. I'd love to read more about them all!

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