The House at the Edge of Magic, written by Amy Sparkes, has all the ingredients of a perfect middle grade novel. It is fast paced with great cliff hanger endings for each chapter. It has strong, emotionally charged characters full of energy and sparkle. It has fantastical and fun settings and above all, it is full of heart!
The main character of the story, Nine, is an orphan pickpocket working for a grumpy gang-master and living in the Nest of a Thousand Treasures. Her home may sound exciting by name but, it is really a Dickensian life of misery, without family, a comfy bed and any real treasures of her own. All that is except one, a music box, which she is never even allowed to touch.
Life for Nest changes when she steals a house-shaped ornament and knocks on the tiny front door. As suddenly as the house grows into a life-sized higglety-pigglety tower of magic, Nine’s adventure begins.
Through the front door, Nine discovers a household of fabulous, funny and magical characters, including Flabberghast a young wizard, a troll housekeeper and a skeleton in the closet who longs to be dusted every now and again!
Soon after entering the house, Nine discovers the household occupants have been placed under a curse – they cannot leave the house or travel to different lands and they are desperate for Nine to help them find a way to break the spell.
Nine’s character is feisty, determined and brave, with a dash of anger mixed in. She is afraid to apologise, say thank you and show kindness, which she fears might make her appear weak in others eyes. At first this is confronting and at times the reader is annoyed with her for not recognising genuine help and generosity and reacting as we have taught our children too. Though, after the life Nine has been leading it is hard to imagine her acting any other way. Amy Sparkes has created a very believable character with a deep emotional core and one that holds our attention throughout.
Without giving away any spoilers, at the end, we do see Nine soften, show affection and gratitude and open up a little more. This character development makes me very excited to read book two in the series (which has just come out!) where I imagine she becomes more open to others and honest about her feelings too.
I am also excited to read book two to explore more of the house. I loved every element and every room of it so far, from the moving toilets to the burping sugar bowl. In a year’s time this will be the perfect level for my daughter (currently aged 6) who will certainly want to move into this amazing house after reading the book! I certainly did!