Monday 4 February 2013

The Witch of the East by Mark Boyde and Scott McGregor (Ghostly Publishing Ltd)

"...And they all lived happily ever after".

Do you get a bit annoyed that most children's books always have to end on a high? It's very rare to see a children's book end on a dark note.

I was quite interested to see how Charlotte would react to "The Witch of the East" by Mark Boyde and Scott McGregor. Before I'd read the book I'd spotted the image of "The Princess" and thought immediately that she'd win Charlotte over...

Well she ticks all the right boxes, but this Princess isn't at all what she seems!

"The Witch of the East" builds a fantasy world populated by a rather nasty old hag, whose favourite food just happens to be fairies. No not fairy cakes, actual fairies - the sweeter the better. Of course, the good fairy folk know very well to keep well away from the deep dark woods. But the lure of a beautiful princess in peril draws them out of their homes. They rescue her and in her gratitude she offers to throw the fairies a party they'll never forget...

Once the book reached its (slightly gruesome) conclusion, Charlotte wanted to know what happened to the fairies. Being a big fan of Tinkerbell I don't think it sat well with her to imagine Tinks ending up in a burger, or roasted in a pot, her bones picked clean.

Then it struck me. Of course! This book would be an absolutely massive win for boys, tired of their sisters' prancing around with a pair of fake fairy wings on, wishing that something (or someone) would come along and put a stop to all the frolicking!

Darkly tinged, rather beautifully presented (ace illustrations by Scott), slightly disjointed (we felt like there was a page missing towards the end of the book but the jarring sense that all does not end well is intentional) and definitely not recommended for before-bed reading. Nonetheless if you want a book that doesn't end with a sugary sweet sentiment, this is most definitely it.

Charlotte's best bit: The beautiful Princess (even if she's not quite what she seems, she's beautiful!)

Daddy's favourite bit: It's almost refreshing to read a children's book where everything ends on a deep dark note but couldn't help feeling very sorry for the poor fairy folk in this!

Each book sold will directly benefit the Scottish Burnt Children's Club.

More information available on the "Tales of Mordekai Hagg" website

(Kindly supplied to us for review by Ghostly Publishing)