A coming of age tale amid the backdrop of a magical forest: Spellbook of the Lost and Found [Review]

A coming of age tale amid the backdrop of a magical forest: Spellbook of the Lost and Found [Review]

Spellbook of the Lost and Found

By Moira Fowley-Doyle
Published by Corgi / Random House
ISBN 978 0 552 57131 9

Young adult novels about vulnerable teenage girls becoming involved in magic – both black and white – are getting a bit old hat. It’s difficult for fans of this popular genre to find a new book that doesn’t cover well-trodden ground and leave them feeling “been-there, read-that” at the end.

Moira Fowley-Doyle’s Spellbook of the Lost and Found promises much with its attractive cover and jacket blurb, and the great news is that it delivers on both story and characters.

Dark, feisty and bold, Spellbook injects a good dose of much needed fresh blood into the girls-meddling-with-magic genre. It is clear from the start that the imaginative Fowley-Doyle is going to ditch the clichés.

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In a small town in Ireland, a group of teenagers are coping with growing up with varying degrees of success. Relationships with family and friends are problematic. Alcohol and other temptations rear their ugly heads.

Olive has a secure middle-class home life with a supportive mother and father. Her best friend is Rose, and together the two girls are full of ambition and hope for the future. Hazel’s life is messy and insecure. She lives with Rowan, her twin brother, and Ivy, a life-long friend, in a squat on an abandoned housing estate.

Hazel and Rowan live on the edge of society. They exist hand-to-mouth and are not above stealing when times become hard. Fowley-Doyle takes on a lot with so many characters at the centre of the novel, but each is clearly defined and has a clear role to play in the plot.

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One hot summer night, Olive and Rose suddenly realise that they have both been losing things. It starts with simple items like hair clips and bits of cheap jewellery. But this is not normal. Their paths now cross with those of Ivy, Hazel and Rowan, who have also lost belongings.

Something sinister is going on, and when the puzzled teens discover an ancient book of magic in a local forest, they think they have found the answer. The book is full of spells that will recover lost things. But is it just worthless objects that these spells will bring back? Could these charms, if mishandled, conjure up things that are best left unfound?

Fowley-Doyle is an exquisite and consummate writer, and her second novel is very much a high-end read. It does touch on adult themes and is suitable for mature teenage readers.

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Even if you’re not a fan of dark fantasy, you’ll appreciate this twisting, shadowy tale of forgotten secrets and mysterious promises from a young writer who is quickly becoming a stand-out name in the field of YA fiction.

John Millen can be contacted on johnmillenbooks@gmail.com

Edited by Karly Cox


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