By Author / Illustrator
Simon & Schuster Ltd
Paperback / softback
There are secrets hidden beneath the ice . . . bring the magic home in the frosty fourth instalment of the bestselling Pinch of Magic Adventures, from the award-winning Michelle Harrison. Pre-order now!
When the Widdershins sisters and Granny are called away in deepest winter to look after cousin Clarissa, it doesn't take long for adventure - or trouble - to find them. The town of Wilderness has plenty to explore with its frozen lake and winter market, as well as being haunted by a doomed highwayman and his secret love. But the legends are true and seeing a ghostly figure one night, the girls realise that Granny is in terrible danger. As an icy storm rages, the race to save her begins - can the sisters lay Wilderness's ghosts to rest before another soul is claimed?
'Harrison's fully imagined world has conviction, and the perils of the story are lightened by the warmth and spirit of its characters' The Sunday Times. 'Gutsy and rude, full of warts-and-all family love, Harrison's latest has the wry enchantment of an E Nesbit classic' Guardian.
At the start of A Storm of Sisters, cousin Clarissa needs looking after so the Widdershins sisters and their Granny set off for the Wilderness to look after her. The girls are excited to find that there is not enough room for them all to stay at cousin Clarissa's house and they will be staying at Echo Hall - without Granny. With the mysterious legend of a highwayman, a winter market to explore and the possibility of masked ball to attend, there is much to enjoy, but the town has an eerie past and the girls find themselves caught up in the ghostly happenings at the Hall.
I have loved each of the books about the Widdershins sisters, but I think this is the best yet! Betty, keen to travel and adventurous as ever, is enthralled by the legend of the highwayman surrounding Echo Hall and delighted to find an unsolved mystery in the very place they are staying. Fliss is more concerned with the prospect of a masked ball, having her fortune told and perhaps falling in love, whereas Charlie remains as Charlie-like as ever! Together, they make a formidable team, but all their determination and love for family might not be enough to keep them safe in the face of ghosts and devious goings on.
Wintery Wilderness is the perfect backdrop to this story. Atmospheric descriptions help build tension as eerie events develop and the girls find themselves entwined in the mystery of the highwayman. As ever, evocative place names are carefully chosen to enhance the atmosphere.
Gripping from the outset, A Storm of Sisters is an excellent, absorbing read, full of mystery and magic. Just brilliant!
352 pages / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 9+
In A Storm of Sisters, Fliss, Betty and Charlie Widdershins are called away from the sleepy village of Penderwick when their father's cousin Clarissa breaks her ankle and needs their help. Along with Granny Widdershins, they journey to the far North to Wilderness, a remote, cold and wintery place. When they arrive at Clarissa's cottage on Chill Hill they are told of the local legend of a highwayman and his tragic sweetheart Elora Goode. The girls are sent to stay at Echo Hall in the centre of the town, where, in true Widdershins style, they find themselves immersed in a magical mystery involving a stolen magical crystal ball, ghostly maids, hauntings, secret passageways and a host of local legends and superstitions.
Michelle Harrison does not fail to delight in this, the fourth adventure featuring the three intrepid sisters. We are whisked away to a snowy land full of suspense and adventure. Beautifully written, the reader can almost feel the bitterly cold air of Wilderness pouring from the page. The author has woven a fascinating and complex story and made it into a complete page-turner. We are told the background story of the mysterious highwayman, Jack Frost, and Elora Goode, through three chapters of its own within the book, a brilliant device which gives the reader an insight into the background of the local legend.
The three main characters are just as wonderful and endearing as ever, Pretty Fliss, feisty and adventurous Betty and little Charlie are a great team, always looking out for one another and pulling together to help each other through dangerous times. The two villains of the story, the obsequious Mr Sneed and the enigmatic fortune teller Lady Fortuna, add an air of menace to the tale. There are several truly creepy moments – the pale hand pushing at the underside of the ice on Shivershock Lake being one!
The story is fast paced and full of action with a great twist which I did not see coming. It culminates with a fabulously exciting stand-off in the bitter cold on the shore of Shivershock as Lady Fortuna makes a desperate effort to recover the magical crystal ball stolen from her mother years ago.
I cannot praise this series of books highly enough, and A Storm of Sisters is a perfect addition to it. Again, there is a strong sense of family running through it and the power of the love the sisters have for each other is perfectly depicted when Fliss helps Betty, despite being in great pain herself. I feel that these books would make a perfect TV series (or series of films) – I cannot understand why they have not been snapped up yet. All I can say is, if you haven't yet met the Widdershins sisters, you really need to! Congratulations to Michelle Harrison on another barnstorming read. Now….when is the next one due?!
352 pages / Reviewed by Beverley Somerset, school librarian
Suggested Reading Age 9+