The Witch of Turlingham Academy by Ellie Boswell
|The Witch of Turlingham Academy by Ellie Boswell|
|Genre: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Linda Lawlor|
|Summary: It's bad enough being the only day girl at Turlingham Academy (not to mention being the daughter of the headmistress). But when Sophie discovers that new girl Katy, is a witch hunter, and that she's after one of Sophie's own friends, then things get really difficult.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 244||Date: March 2012|
Boarding school, midnight feasts, a crowd of best friends and cute boys to gaze at (though mostly from a safe distance): what more could you ask from a story for girls of twelve and under? Well, how about throwing a bit of magic into the mix? Perfect, huh?
Sophie has just turned thirteen. The first time we meet her she's preparing a welcome-back prank for the beginning of term with her best friend Callum, which means we learn straight away that being the headmistress's daughter doesn't in any way cramp her sense of adventure. In a foreshadowing of events later in the book we see that Sophie isn't some passive heroine who allows things to happen around her. She's out there, being mischievous, taking the occasional risk and doing her best to have fun with her friends. She is a girl whom readers will immediately warm to, and they will willingly identify with her plight as the story progresses.
Almost at once odd things begin to happen. Sophie finds a small package addressed to her, which has been tucked into a drawer in her mother's desk for years, along with a pile of unopened letters. Then things she wishes for begin to happen. But not everything is going well. A raven and a black squirrel start following her around. A new girl, Katy, has arrived, and soon becomes the centre of Sophie's group of friends. Sophie begins to feel left out, because all the exciting games and plans Katy proposes happen after Sophie has gone home for the day. And then, something extraordinary occurs. Sophie discovers that Katy and her gorgeous brother Ashton are witch hunters, and that they suspect Erin, one of Sophie's closest friends. They intend to remove her powers, and if they can't, they will have to kill her. But Erin is not the one who is slowly developing magical abilities . . . Sophie survives her adventures in a surprising and unexpected way, and readers will be delighted to learn that a second book about her will be published shortly.
This is a charming story, aimed at readers who are just beginning to notice boys but whose first loyalty is still very strongly to the girls in their friendship group. Feeling accepted, part of the gang, is essential to happiness, and being left out is agony. The emphasis of this story is squarely on friendship, and while magic does happen, it is almost a secondary theme. What matters is to belong, to be wanted, and to care for and protect your friends. There are thrills and fears, a horrid teacher and a spiteful prefect, and it is soon clear several people are not who they seem. And as a bonus, the book provides several sure-fire ways to check if your bestie is a witch—but make sure you check she's not carrying any magnets first!
Another boarding school tale with a generous dollop of magic is The Worst Witch to the Rescue by Jill Murphy. And if you want to read about another girl who suddenly finds she has developed an unusual talent, try Divine Freaks by Fiona Dunbar.
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