Books and reading

Wild magic: ‘Havoc! The Untold magic of Cora Bell’ by Rebecca McRitchie & Sharon O’Connor

Havoc! is the second book in the Jinxed! series by Rebecca McRitchie, all about the magical adventures of Cora Bell and her fairy friends Tick and Tock.

Aimed at independent readers eight years and over, these are chapter books that will enchant and engage, with enough action to please and a focus on the themes of friendship, belonging and being brave.

Havoc! picks up from the first book, with Cora realising that the magic within her has been ‘syphoned’ from magical beings and threatens to get out of control. If she is not able to do something soon, she runs the risk of turning into a Havoc, and no one wants to be around one of those…

She sets off in search of other syphons, in the hope that by finding others like herself she will finally have found a family and a place to belong. On the way, she encounters dark magic, powerful enemies and danger.

Her friends Tick and Tock add some humour into the mix. Forget about sparkly, delicately fluttering ‘Tinkerbells’ – these fairies are bald little men with rather large bellies, and plenty of gumption to help their friend.

The black and white illustrations by Sharon O’Connor bring characters Cora, Tick, Tock and others to life.

The world-building in this story is lovely, with riffs on familiar creatures like mermen, warlocks, trolls and vampires. Some of the scenes are a little dark so possibly not suited to very young children – though with the popularity of Harry Potter among even the youngest of tots, perhaps there is not so much cause for concern nowadays?

Havoc! and the Jinxed! series will appeal to young readers who like their magic fast and colourful, and who enjoy stories about friends facing the odds together.

Havoc! The Untold Magic of Cora Bell is published by Angus & Robertson (an imprint of Harper Collins Children’s Books) in September 2020.

My thanks to the publishers for a copy to read and review.

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