Tuesday 7 March 2017

HERE BE WITCHES by Sarah Mussi

Having thoroughly enjoyed Here be Dragons, Book One, of The Snowdonia Chronicles I have been eagerly awaiting the publication of Book Two, Here be Witches.
Ellie and her friends, George and Rhiannon, find themselves caught up in a battle involving witches, dragons and other mythical creatures.  They need to reverse the spell that threatens to leave Wales in the icy grip of winter.  With the help of Davey, a mysterious stranger, and Granny Jones’ charms and potions, they set out on their quest.  They have just three days to complete it.

For me, the best thing about this book, is how Sarah Mussi achieves a totally credible merging of two worlds: the ‘real’ world and the mythical.  Setting the story in Snowdonia in Wales gives it a solid sense of place.  Together with Wales’ connections to dragons and its folklore this merging of real and mythical is seamless.  There is a powerful sense of atmosphere throughout the book with the landscape of Snowdonia as a constant backdrop. 

Ellie Morgan, the protagonist, is a strong and courageous sixteen-year-old in love with the gorgeous Henry, who also happens to be a dragon.   She is a highly likeable and relatable character.  I thought that her scored-through thoughts in the text were ingenious, showing the reader what she is really thinking.  The use of texts and pings in the storyline also give her credibility as a regular teenager albeit one who is in love with a dragon.

Friendship features strongly in the storyline and the one between Ellie, Rhiannon and Sheila is spot on.  The friendship between Ellie and George is full of humorous banter with poor George declaring his undying love for her.  As the story progresses there are glimpses of Ellie questioning how she really feels about him.  A definite pull into Book Three.

Ellie’s love for Henry is powerful, the thing above all else that she is prepared to fight for.  The fact that she may also be harbouring feelings for George as more than just a friend add nicely to the mix.  By the end of the book I am still not sure who she will ultimately choose.

I loved the humour in the dialogue, ‘maybe she is some kind of Gandalf’.   The text is littered with funny comments that lighten the mood and definitely convinced me I was in the company of teenagers.

Here be Witches has great pace.  Firstly the characters have just three days to complete their quest.  And secondly, the action is snappy, no overlong scenes or lengthy descriptions to slow it down.

The book has a strong sense of right and wrong, good and evil.  I thought the ethereal character of Davey alluded particularly well to this theme giving it religious overtones.  Ellie’s thoughts and comments about him are particularly amusing as it takes her a while to work him out.

So, a brilliant story full of amazing mythical creatures, told by strong, credible characters and set against a magnificent backdrop.  I cannot wait to read the final book in this trilogy.  


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