Dark magic, a football mad girl and a fox called Finney By various authors - book reviews -


Finding light in a dark world has never been more relevant than it is today and Anna Goodall’s coruscating middle-grade debut novel burns brightly for youngsters struggling to cope with the pandemic.

Inspired by her interest in animals (including talking ones!), other worlds, families and friendship, Goodall delivers a thrilling and thought-provoking story starring a troubled, angry 12-year-old girl thrust into a terrifying adventure and discovering the power of friendship, courage and simply being yourself.

Maggie Blue is an outsider, both at home and at school, and has always been happy to stay under the radar. The only people who seem to notice her are her eccentric aunt Esme, with whom she lives, and the carefree, gorgeous Ida, the school bully who takes great pleasure in being mean to Maggie.

Maggie’s only friends are the irascible Hoagy, a stray cat who can talk to her, and Miss Cane, the new guidance counsellor at school, who shows Maggie some rare kindness. But then Ida disappears and, despite an extensive hunt, no one seems to know what happened to her… well, nobody except Maggie.

Maggie followed Ida into the woods and saw the girl being taken through a window into another world by Miss Cane, the counsellor, who has transformed into a wolf. Knowing that people won’t believe her story, Maggie is determined to save Ida, whatever the cost.

With only Hoagy and his sarcasm for company, Maggie finds herself entering a dark world full of danger, a place where happiness is a commodity which can be stolen from people to be used as currency, and to which Maggie is connected in a way she never believed was possible.

There is a tangible current of emotion coursing through this thrill-a-minute, fast-paced story as the lonely, lost and lovely Maggie’s adventure in the chilling, mercenary Dark World becomes a journey of self-determination and self-discovery.

The baddies are super-bad and the whole cast of characters are magical and fantastical as Goodall spins out a ripping yarn that proves to be as bizarre as it is beautiful, and which cleverly explores the devastating impact of greed and cruelty on society.

With the grumpy, one-eyed Hoagy providing the wit, humour and much-needed friendship to courageous Maggie, and a stunning cover illustration by Sandra Dieckmann, this is the perfect gift package for every child that craves an all-round, cracking adventure story!