The Brown family seem normal enough on the surface: mum, dad, two daughters (named Violet and Tabitha) — but they seem to bring with them an extraordinary number of live mice and cats, as well as stuffed rodents … and, well, what was that growling under the blanket that covered that rather large cage?!
It's not long before Anna and Grace discover their secret: Mrs Brown and her daughters are Creatures of Magic, the preferred name for modern witches. They're also being hunted by the Inquisitors, who want to destroy them. As Anna is drawn further and further into the Browns' world, her loyalty and courage are put increasingly to the test, especially when it seems that trusting Violet might be a very dangerous thing to do.
I thoroughly enjoyed this debut novel by Maree Fenton-Smith, especially the way age-old themes of magic and the fight between good and evil are set against more 'everyday' concerns of friendship and trust. Anna is a delightful narrator. She has a great eye for detail and a wonderfully wry sense of humour. I also liked the way — in keeping with Anna's love of words — each chapter begins with a word and its definition to indicate the focus of that particular chapter; for example, 'Transmogrify, verb to transform in a magical or surprising manner.'
I'm hoping that we'll see Anna and her companions return for subsequent adventures.
Title: Creatures of Magic
Author: Maree Fenton-Smith
Illustrator: Lilly Piri
Publisher: Walker Books, $19.95 RRP
Publication Date: October 2013
For ages: 10+
Type: Middle Fiction