|The Last Spell Breather by Julie Pike|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Sophie Diamond|
|Summary: An enchanting story about the power of words and magic. Would highly recommend for children.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 304||Date: July 2019|
|Publisher: Oxford University Press|
Rayne lives in the small, hidden village of Penderin where she is a somewhat unwilling apprentice to her mother, the spell breather. Not everyone can spell breathe, you have to born with a magic spark and Rayne wishes she hadn't been born with one. She's a terrible spell breather, her attempts are always followed by disaster and she positively hates Mam's spell book with it's sharp teeth that suck your blood. When a stranger finds their village one day, Mam must set off on a journey to the great library, leaving Rayne in the village as their chief spell breather, but an unfortunate mistake sees Rayne breaking her mother's book and turning everyone in to monsters. She must face her fear travel across the monster-ridden country to find Mam and restore the book to save their village.
This book is thoroughly enjoyable! It's accessible to children with a strong story that mums and dads will enjoy too. Its tone reminds me of The Philosopher's Stone but with a very clear story of its own, and perhaps directed at a slightly younger audience. This is the kind of fiction you want your child to read because it teaches them clear lessons about the importance of honesty and the power of words to hurt and help, as well as improving their general literacy.
The story isn't too complex, is very fast-paced and full of action. There's no room for young readers to get bored. The story and the world Pike has created is really well thought out and designed and the focus the plot takes on words is a really innovate take on a children's magical story. It's also refreshingly self-contained. There would be room for Pike to continue the story of Rayne's world if she wished to but the story is equally satisfactory on its own. In a world of 10-part sagas this is a novelty and makes this book independently great and not just a building block of something larger. It's just pure excitement and fun, exactly what good fiction should be.
The characters are very well fleshed out and relatable and the creatures and landscape are vivid and imaginative. Rayne is a brilliant protagonist, she's smart and strong and continually develops as the story continues. Tom is an excellent foil and counterpart, he's self assured and in equal parts rebellious and wise beyond his years. Together they're a very endearing set.
The writing itself is pitched very well to the audience, it's maybe a tad simplistic for adults but that is what makes it so accessible for young children to read on their own, and I genuinely think it will expand their vocabulary because the focus is on words. They won't even realise they're learning, they'll be enjoying the story so much. I also think this story is very gender neutral, boys and girls will both find this story appealing.
I think it's really rare for children's fiction be this good and that Julie Pike is setting herself up for big things in the future. There wasn't a thing about this book I didn't like.
If you like the sound of this, I think you would also enjoy The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale: it's quite a bit scarier than this novel but is every bit as exquisitely magical.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Last Spell Breather by Julie Pike at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Last Spell Breather by Julie Pike at Amazon.com.
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