Review Blog

Dec 21 2012

Fire spell by Laura Amy Schlitz

cover image

Bloomsbury, 2012. ISBN 9781408826218.
(Age: 10+) Recommended. Set in Victorian London, the story begins with Clara Wintermute, a lonely child whose four siblings have died from eating watercress contaminated with cholera, leaving her parents locked in grief. She befriends two ragged orphans, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall, when they perform a puppet show for her on her twelfth birthday. The orphans work for Grisini, a Fagin-like character who kidnaps children and then demands ransom. He is able to hide the children by trapping their body and minds in a marionette until the ransom is paid. Grissini is in thrall to the witch Cassandra who is now dying and seeking to rid herself of the opal fire stone which has the power to restore life but also create evil. When Clara is kidnapped Parsefall discovers what has happened to her and he and Lizzie Rose become involved in a power struggle with Grisini and Cassandra.
These are touches here of E. Nesbit characters, Neil Gaiman's Coraline and The Graveyard Book as well as Cornelia Funke's Inkheart Trilogy. Targeted at the 9-12 age group, at almost 400 pages, it's a challenging read, suitable for confident readers as the story is revealed through different characters' perspectives. There is plenty of action and suspense, although the plot is at times rambling, contrived and anticlimatic. However, the characters are real and the settings memorable and atmospheric. Life for the rich and poor of those times is well researched and this award winning author has given great attention to detail. Those who persist with this novel will be well rewarded.
Kevyna Gardner

Archived Blog Entries
Latest News
Environment Award for Children's Literature 2017
Book Week 2017 ideas - Escape to Everywhere
Speech Pathology shortlist 2017
2017 CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals
2017 Branford Boase Award
2017 UKLA Book Awards
Little Rebels Children's Book Award 2017
10th UK Waterstones Children's Laureate
UK Children's Book Award 2017
Laugh Out Loud Awards 2017 shortlist
2017 Locus Awards Winners
Miles Franklin longlist 2017

ReadPlus Features
Print similar authors bookmark
Read similar authors
How to find lesson plans
Sample theme animation

Promote Reading
Staff holiday reading list 2016
South Australian Christian Schools Conference 2016 - Library Displays
Display calendars
Value of School Libraries
Library, Reading development and the Internet
Free Rights of the Reader Poster
Reviews: Author index
Bookmark and poster templates