The greatest magic is hidden in plain sight...
As a storyteller, Ross Montgomery's magical ability to write fantastically captivating books for children is clearly evident. Both 'The Midnight Guardians' and 'The Chime Seekers' are stories that my ten-year-old self would have devoured; they're stories my ten-year-old self would have wanted to write too - Narnia overtones, goblins, mythic trials.... My Year 4 class love his books too and they were desperate to get their hands on this one. Because 'Spellstone' brilliantly delivers again. This feels like Ross Montgomery letting his hair down and running imaginatively wild in London. Bursting with magic, characters to adore and stampeding peril, 'Spellstone' is another book with storytelling magic obvious in plain sight.
Evie is used to not being noticed. But when she meets the mysterious Wainwright, she discovers that going unnoticed might just be what makes her unique. Recruited into a secret magical organization, Evie finds herself at the heart of an ancient and magical battle. Evil is returning to the land, and Evie is the only person who can stop it. But how can she defeat the most dangerous magician in the world, when she doesn't even know her own powers?
'Spellstone' is a huge amount of fun. It's like a very British mythic Marvel Avengers with Evie discovering she has some kind of powerful magic as she joins the secret Order of the Stone. Each character in the Order has a unique power and a quirky personality to match. My personal favourite is Lady Alinora; she's grumpy, but ultimately endearing, with the ability to shape-shift into different animals. Evie has adventures with members of the Order, learning about their powers and the deeper, mysterious history they share. A final battle with evil magician Vale, in his huge London skyscraper, is suitably epic. This is thrilling stuff that will absolutely grip children in Key Stage Two, for sure.
But 'Spellstone', at its heart, is also a straight-up good v.s. evil tale - about those who see and choose kindness over those who only see and choose hate and division. The only question is: how can Ross Montgomery go bigger and better than this next time? His imagination has no bounds and it's a joy to read whatever he writes. My inner ten-year-old is positively beaming.