Monday, May 11, 2020

MG Fantasy review of A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison

52466340. sx318 sy475 A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison
Format:  E-ARC
Genre:  MG/Fantasy
Publisher:  HMH Books for Young Readers
Number of Pages: 416
Publishing: August 4th, 2020 (first published February 7th, 2019)
Source:  Edelweiss+

Opening lines:  " The prisoner gazed out her window.  It was one of four in Crowstone Tower, the tall stone cage in which she was being held."

Crowstone is one of five islands situated among the Misty Marshes.  To the north is the prison and tower on Repent, the islands of Lament, Torment, and Marshfoot.   Betty Widdershins lives at the Poacher's Pocket Inn in the town of Crowstone with her two sisters,  Charlie and Fliss, and their Granny.  Their mother died when the girls were younger and their father has been in prison on Repent for a number of years.  Of the three Wildershins girls, Betty is the one who's always craved adventure and freedom from her Granny's chores.  Now that it's Halloween and Betty's birthday, she's developed a full proof plan to sneak past her grandmother and take her younger sister, Charlie with her on the ferry to Marshfoot so they can go to the fair.  One small problem, it would require breaking Granny's rule of "never going past the Green's."   At first, everything is going as planned, but then Granny suddenly appears on the ferry boat and immediately whisks them back to town.  Once back at the Inn, Granny finally explains why the Widdershins girls can never leave Crowstone.  Over 100 years ago a curse was placed on their family, if any of the girls were to leave, they would die before the next sunrise.  To prove the point that the magic of the curse is real and to offer them some forms of protection, Granny gives each of the girls a magical object.  Fliss receives a mirror which allows her to see anyone she wants, Betty receives the nesting dolls of invisibility, and Charlie receives her grandmother's bag of teleportation. 

Betty is the first to be unhappy with the news of the curse, it doesn't sit with her plans for adventure, so she decides that she must break the curse.  While searching through her grandmother's things for clues, Betty uncovers information that leads her to the prison as a place that might hold some answers.  With the help of her sisters, Betty makes a secret trip to the prison and meets Colton, a prisoner who offers information on how to break the curse in exchange for them breaking him out of the prison.  Betty takes him up on his offer, but in the process of breaking him out, they accidentally release Jarrod,  a very dangerous prisoner who takes Betty's sister's hostage.  Betty must now not only free her sisters but find a way to break the curse before the next sunset.

I first heard of A Pinch of Magic from Jenna at Falling Letters and then again from booktuber, Gavin Hetherington as I was preparing my list of books for the Believathon II:  Journey to the Stronghold readathon starting May 11th through the 24th.  Believathon involves following a map with each stop having a book-related reading prompt.   The first stop is Poacher's Pocket Inn from Michelle Harrison's newest book A Pinch of Magic, the prompt was to read the first book in a series.  If you want to know more about Believathon, here's a handy video that Gavin created explaining the event. 

Betty has the spirit of an adventurer, something she and her older sister Fliss used to share.  But now that Fliss has turned sixteen, she's changed.  Sometimes, it's like Betty is being mothered by both Fliss and her Grandmother.  I like how Betty tries to make sure her younger sister Charlie has some adventure and doesn't want Charlie to feel stifled by all of their Grandma's rules.  Everything seems to change when Betty finds out about the family curse.  The magical objects offer Betty and her sisters some temporary excitement as they experiment with how to use them, and they definitely come in handy when they need a way to sneak into the prison.  Betty kinda strikes me as the girl who doesn't think things through before acting.  She's a tad too eager in her quest for freedom and trusts people too quickly.  She really wanted to believe that Colton would follow through with his agreement, but the rashness of her actions also led to Jarrod taking her sister's hostage.  At first, I didn't like Colton's deceptions, but as he started to help Betty track down Jarrod, he grew on me.  

 An aspect of the narrative that I so enjoyed was the way the author incorporated Sorsha Spellthorn's past of being locked in the tower into the story.   As Betty begins to investigate the curse and learns more about the prison, she also starts to gather information about Sorsha.  Why she was imprisoned and what connection she has to Betty's family.  Fingerty, or the past prison warder with questionable intentions, was a fun character to fill in the gaps of Sorsha's story.    The bonds between sisters is also an integral piece of the plot, not only how some sisters have strong bonds, but what can happen when jealousy arises between siblings.  The ending was a nice surprise as I wasn't quite sure how the girls would be able to break the curse.  Overall, I really enjoyed the family aspects of this, how each sister stood apart from the other, and I really enjoyed the setting.  There are two more books in the series, A Sprinkle of Sorcery (released 2/6/2020) and A Tangle of Spells (releasing on 2/4/2021). 


  1. I love the cover! Looks like a very enchanting story. :) Thanks for sharing. I will look for this one. Fun that there will be more books in the series too.

  2. I agree with Jess about the cover. And this sounds like an awesome series. I'll see if my library has it. Thanks!

  3. Ahh, as I as read your review, I thought "Hmm, I think I have this on my TBR?" and then I saw my name, haha. I'm glad you enjoyed it! You've convinced me that it should stay on my TBR. :P

  4. Thanks for sharing an interesting blog. It is very useful for everyone, keep up the good work.