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I hope I end up teaching a class of 5th class girls some year so that I can read these books with them! There is just so much scope. Unfortunately I doubt I’d get away with it in most Catholic Schools, with the many references to Wicca (although not in a religious context) and what with the descriptions of magic and spells being so suspiciously accurate!

   ‘But wait! How do YOU know if it’s accurate?’ I hear you cry. Well, I’m a witch! So there! And I think that qualifies me to tell you that Erika is on to something great here with this series.

   First off, although the book appears to be set nowhere in particular, there is a definite sense that these young teenage girls are Irish girls. They’re represented artfully and realistically, rather than stereotypically, and yet they possess and innocence that makes the book conveniently suitable for primary classes, and sort of reminds me of my first coven, not that the results of our spells were ever so dramatic!

   The spells, and their outcomes are genuinely very unique and imaginative, which is not easy to do these days, with all the teen fantasy books vying for our attention (Thanks J.K.).

   So here’s the taster! This sequel to The Demon Notebook begins in a much more light-hearted vein than its predecessor, with the five friends being schooled in magical theory by two senior witches, Their French teacher, Ms. Lemon and Vera (The Cat Lady) Quinlan. The girls are bored to tears being forced to memorise long lists of herbs without any promise of ever being allowed to attempt an actual spell. Then the glamorous Ms. Gold arrives in their school and turns the fruitless arrangement upside-down by promising to teach the girls to create clouds of golden butterflies, change their appearance at will and even to fly. 

   Before long, however, the inevitable happens and McGann’s writing returns to its wonderfully dark edge when a time-travelling spell goes horribly wrong, and Grace finds herself being stalked by a faceless hooded figure with a vendetta against all witches.

 

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