The Magic Begins (Charm Hall) by Tabitha Black

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The Magic Begins (Charm Hall) by Tabitha Black

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: On her first day at her new boarding school, Paige discovers a mysterious little kitten in the building. When she befriends her, she has no idea of the magic that will now be coming her way.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 160 Date: September 2007
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
ISBN: 978-0340931400

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With her parents going off to work in Dubai for a year, 9 year old Paige is rather reluctantly packed off to boarding school. It's a big change for her, but meeting new best friends and room-mates Shannon and Summer on her first day helps her settle in quickly. Then there's the mysterious little kitten, Velvet, that keeps popping up all over the place, even though no pets are allowed at the school, and no one quite knows where she is coming from. When extraordinary things start happening whenever she is around, the three girls start wondering whether Velvet might even be a bit magical, and that's where the fun really begins. When the school comes under threat, can Velvet help them save the day?

It would be hard to read this book and not think of the obvious comparisons to the Harry Potter series. Charm Hall, like Hogwarts, is a British boarding school, where magical things happen to otherwise normal kids, and there are lots of adventures afoot. I didn't think this book was as enchanting as Harry, nor does it have any danger, thrills or the potential to turn into a multi-billion-pound industry, but it was certainly very sweet. I think the book would appeal to a younger audience, and isn't as unisex as Harry (the boarding school is all girls, 99% of the other characters are female too). It also had a touch of Enid Blyton to it, as Charm Hall in some ways resembles a Mallory Towers for the 21st century.

The book is quite ordinary in lots of ways - the plot is fine if a little predictable though there is some suspense towards the end. However the characters of the girls don't seem to have that much, well, character. Then again, at 130 spaced pages including some pictures, it is quite a short book anyway, so you can't expect all that much. What the book does have going for it, however, is that it is book one in a series which means you can gradually build up the characters and the themes over a few books as readers get in to them. Definitely readable, I think junior school girls might like this one.

Thank you to Hodder for supplying this book.

For another tale of friendship, secrets and mysterious goings on, readers might enjoy Secrets, Lies and My Sister Kate while if it's fantasy you like, The Invisible Girl is also worth a look. Or if you like the idea of a series of books about the same characters who you can really get to know, the Stage School set could be another one to pick up.

Buy The Magic Begins (Charm Hall) by Tabitha Black at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Magic Begins (Charm Hall) by Tabitha Black at Amazon.co.uk


Buy The Magic Begins (Charm Hall) by Tabitha Black at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Magic Begins (Charm Hall) by Tabitha Black at Amazon.com.

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