Spellchasers: The Beginner’s Guide to Curses
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Molly Drummond annoyed her grumpy old neighbour by complaining about the dog dirt on his pavement; what she didn’t expect was that he would curse her so that she turns into a hare every time a dog barks. This of course makes life very difficult, so Molly agrees to attend a course which promises to break the curse; even though she does not actually believe in the concept herself. She finds herself with a group of children, all of whom suffer from family curses which they are desperate to get rid of. As part of their course the children are sent on a quest which will test them to the limit and make them think about their priorities in life.
This is the first in a new series from the Kelpies imprint, produced in Scotland by Floris Books. It follows their usual high standard and is an extremely enjoyable read. There is a lot of action and adventure as well as a good dose of magic and mystery. The story is very much grounded in Scotland and there is a real sense of place and of personality which comes through. The characters are believable, even if they do consist of a sphinx, a dryad and a kelpie as well as Molly. As you would expect there are also a rather nasty villain who uses the curses to create a flock (murder) of crows. The underlying themes are very much about family and the meaning of friendship, as well as being comfortable with yourself. They are definitely ideas that young people have to contend with nowadays and experiencing the issues through fiction is a good way for people to be able to think about them and to discuss the problems with their friends. This is a great read and I look forward to the next two books.