I received a free copy of this book for review.
Christmas, lots of snow, a grandfather clock in an old mansion, a powerful curse, and a witch in two time periods. What’s not to like? This book is intended for middle grade children, but it is so well-written and so darned compelling, at least from this adult’s point of view, I can recommend it to everyone.
The story: It’s December 2018. Twelve- year-old Kes Bunting and his younger sister Star, both orphans, are living in a cold, dilapidated foster home overseen by the devious Mrs. Auk. She receives an official letter from Hoop, Hoop, Hoop, Hoop and Sons, announcing the children’s legal guardian has been found, and shortly they are off by train to meet their grandmother, Lady Bunting. She resides in a large country mansion called St. Flurries, which is supposed to be haunted. They are followed there by an elderly man in a dark gray suit. What a great beginning!
St. Flurries is a wondrous old house, populated by a seven foot tall major domo named Goldie, who has a black eye patch; their white-haired grandmother whom they call Granny Bird; the rotund cook named Mrs. Chiffchaff; a tiny, bird-like old woman named Genevieve, who talks in riddles and acts most strangely; and Chat the cat. One of the first things the children notice is a grandfather clock which keeps time running backward.
It is snowing heavily, the countdown to Christmas has begun, and Star falls ill. Kes is told of the haunting of St. Flurries by a Snow Witch, and outside, exploring, he thinks he sees her.
December 1918: Twelve-year-old Kitty Wigeon can’t wait for Christmas at St Flurries, a grand old manor house in the countryside. When she goes to the local Christmas Fair, through no fault of her own she earns a curse from the old matriarch of a powerful gypsy clan. Then, on the chilly night after the funeral for her oldest brother, who died in the war, she vanishes without a trace. The only thing found is her locket, which now resides around Star’s neck.
What happened to Kitty? Is she really the Snow Witch? What was the curse? Is there an evil force behind Star’s illness? What can Kes do to solve the mystery, in a house brimming with secrets? Who is the man who followed them to St. Flurries?
Hopefully, I’ve revealed enough, without giving a lot away, to make you want to read this book. The inventiveness and creativity of the author have made this one of my favorite children’s book, with whimsical and wonderful characters and setting. She has woven an intricate mystery against a colorful and compelling background that spans time and place. Her descriptions of Christmas at St. Flurries are spun like dreams, with food and outlandish decorations, and her characters are so lovingly imagined, you want to meet them in person. Have you ever met a snow white hedgehog called Bob the Snodge? She has also rendered the children in an amazingly down to earth fashion, so even in the face of unimaginable, they are real.
Five stars for this book!
About the author (from Amazon):
Rosie Boyes is a children’s author from the UK. She has been passionate about middle-grade books ever since she can remember. Her love of reading came at an early age when she escaped into classic stories, living out the lives of the characters she met. During her spare time, she dreams about dipping her toes in the sea, splashing through puddles, kicking up leaves in the autumn…
She is also the author of another book for children, Clemmie’s War, also involving time travel.
You can find her
On twitter: @RosieTheAuthor
And her books on Amazon UK: