Thursday, 14 October 2010
Review: Mistress of the Storm - M.L. Welsh
The storm is coming... but can Verity survive it?
There's something deliciously old-fashioned about Mistress of the Storm. While I'm still not quite sure precisely what era the story is set in, it has that slightly 'olden days' feel of many classic children's books. It's the type of story that takes you away to another world where anything can happen - where magic is real and a twelve year old girl might just be able to change the course of history.
Verity Gallant is our heroine, an ordinary girl who has always felt overshadowed by her prettier sister. She's not popular and she's not considered beautiful, but she's the kind of character that readers are sure to relate to. A bookworm, she's resigned to the fact that the local children make fun of her and she's not used to having friends. While her story sees her uncovering the truth about a sinister relative who comes to stay - and saving her family from a terrible fate - it's also about friendship. Verity isn't a character who finds fitting in easy, but in the self-assured Henry Twogood and misunderstood Martha Platt, she finds a loyalty that helps her to face up to the biggest challenge of her life... and change her family's destiny.
Verity's adventure unfolds in the ancient coastal town of Wellow, where a ring of smuggling families known as the 'Gentry' once made their ill-gotten fortunes. Rich in local legend, it's an enchanting setting - vividly imagined and steeped in mystery. While there are elements of the supernatural at work here, the story's magic comes from the power and danger of the sea as much as the witch herself, and you can almost hear the waves crashing as you read - ideally curled up indoors by the fire on a blustery winter afternoon. I loved the way that the town library plays such an important part in Verity's journey - warm and welcoming and full of unexpected discoveries, it's the kind of sanctuary that book lovers will wish they had in their own town.
Mistress of the Storm is a truly beguiling tale. It's warm, original, and intriguing. While I occasionally found it difficult to keep some of the secondary characters straight - there's a lot of them - their different threads all come together beautifully in the end. I thoroughly enjoyed Verity's story, and I'm hoping there'll be further adventures from her, Henry and Martha in the future. I'd recommend this one to readers in the eight to twelve age range, or anyone young at heart.
Out: July 1st 2010, UK
Thank you to the author for providing a copy of this book for an honest review.