The little grey girl by Celine Kiernan

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The Wild Magic Trilogy book 2. Walker Books, 2019. ISBN 9781406373929.
(Age: 9-13) Recommended. Themes: Fantasy. Ghosts. Witches. Scary books. In the second book in The Wild Magic Trilogy, following Begone the raggedy witches, Mup and her family travel to the castle, where Mam is greeted, to her dismay, as the new queen. But the old queen is still powerful and the kingdom is in danger. Mup sees a little grey girl, a ghost who has extraordinary powers, and discovers that she can make anyone exceptionally sad as she haunts them with terrible memories from the past. What can she do to help heal the kingdom?
This is a book that will appeal to children and young adults who like ghost stories with brave protagonists who try to fight evil. The little grey girl has frightening powers and children with vivid imaginations will be able to see the terrible things that she remembers from the dungeons under the castle. (It is not a story for the faint-hearted to read at night.) However many readers will be able to concentrate on the closeness of Mup's family, her friendship with Crow, and her determination to help everyone, including the little grey girl.
Mup is a very strong character who can stand up to witches and ghosts, while acknowledging when she is wrong and being able to apologise when her actions hurt someone. Throughout the story she gradually learns about her powers as a witch and uses them to do the right thing.
Kiernan's prose is vivid, sparse and easy to read and it takes the reader on an adventure with Mup soaring through the air, sitting on the castle roof with Crow, and using her witch light to explore the tunnels and dungeons that are hidden under the castle floors.
Tiny illustrations throughout the book add atmosphere and add to the tension. Readers who examine the front cover, too, will get a shiver down their spines when looking at the shadow of the fierce dog depicted there.
Older readers might like to continue reading about ghosts with City of ghosts by Victoria Schwab, and younger readers might like the style of books by Katherine Rundell.
Pat Pledger