Review: Witchstorm

Written and illustrated by Tim Tilley
Published by Usborne

Witchstorm is an exhilarating fantasy adventure singing to the wonder of nature’s magic:  a tale of long-forgotten witches, of lost treasure and of the heart of family and friendship. 

Will believes in magic and in witches and is convinced that his Ma’s recent disappearance is linked to her search for a witch’s treasure, a treasure that is sung of in a song passed down through his family left to them by one of the last Fenland witches, Agatha Crow.    

When searching for his Ma, Will discovers an amulet with a missing stone hidden by her and signs that witches have been at their wildlife hide.  Have the witches taken his Ma?  Why would she keep the amulet from them?  

Taking the amulet to his aunt Hera, who is an archaeologist, he is surprised when a young witch crashes into his life.  She has been drawn to the power of the amulet and needs the stone that should be at its centre to save her world.  Can Will, who has been let down by his best friend, learn to trust Magda? Can they work together to save those that are precious to them, and their homes?

So begins the most incredible, atmospheric adventure as Will and Magda find themselves on a quest to find the Stormstone, a magical stone with the power to summon the mythical storm-lion and unleash terrifying storms capable of great destruction.  But someone has awoken from a centuries-old slumber and is determined to control the Stormstone and use it to wreak revenge on the Fenlanders.

Will and Magda find themselves in a race to find the Stormstone before it is used against both the witches and the people of the Fens, a race which has them solving riddles, visiting the clouds, making narrow escapes and battling against a twisting tower as well as using some fantastic modes of transport!  There is a real sense of danger, of threat and of time running out as the children realise the peril their worlds are in, and as they fight to save those they love as the villain edges ever closer and closer, and hope seems lost …

Will is a wonderful protagonist, a believer in magic and in stories and in songs.  He is struggling to trust after he loses the friendship of his best friend, Alfie.  Learning to trust Magda is difficult at first, but they bond over what they are both seeking.  Will is kind-hearted, determined and courageous and is close to both his Ma and aunt Hera.  He follows his heart, faces his fears and shows himself to be a wonderfully supportive friend.

I loved the ecological message in the story with the contrast between those like Will and his Ma who appreciated nature and want to see it flourish and be protected to those who do not care about destroying it in order to meet their needs.  There is an apt warning that, whilst we may not be aware of the importance of what we are destroying, it could open the path for future peril.   The natural environment has its own awe-inspiring magic and maybe we just need to take time to cherish it and look after it before we lose forever that which is of great benefit to us. 

A magical, nature-inspired and heartfelt fantasy adventure that is a perfect read for cold, dark, spooky evenings … highly recommended for young adventurers of 9+.

Thank you to Usborne for providing me with a proof copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

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