Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Fire Spell a.k.a. Splendors and Glooms - Laura Amy Schlitz

Fire spells is a wonderfully creepy book that has all the charm of a classic and the originality that comes with skillful storytelling. It’s the perfect read for cold winter nights spent curled up on the couch, wrapped in a blanket with a cup of hot tea in one hand and your book in the other.

Set in 1860 London, it’s the story of three children, a wicked magician and a cursed witch.

When rich but lonely Clara disappears the night of her birthday party, the prime suspect is Gaspare Grisini, the puppet master who enchanted Clara with his spellbinding show at the party. But her parents and the police are helpless. It’s up to Lizzie Rose and Parsefall, the two orphans who work for Grisini, to unravel the mystery and save Clara from her fate.

The two main characters, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall are easy to love, both for different reasons. The youngest, Parsefall, is a little grumpy rascal, who loves working his puppets despite resenting Grisini’s  power over him.  Lizzie Rose is more mature and responsible, but she also has to rely on Grisini for work and shelter and hates it. Because the puppet master is clearly not a loving guardian. The two children fear him and they have good reasons to. As soon as Clara disappears, they know that Grisini has something to do with it, when they find a puppet scarily similar to Clara in their master’s box. In fact, Parsefall is convinced that it is Clara, and somehow Grisini has managed to turn her into a puppet.  

I loved how the story unravels. The pace is quick, but not too quick, so that it gives you time to get to know the characters and care for them. The villains are really creepy. Grisini is perfect as the wicked magician. He’s scary and horrible just as he should be. And the witch is a surprising character with an interesting, multi-layered personality who plays a very important role in the lives of the children. 

The American title is Splendors and Glooms, which, I think, reflects the story very well. The splendors of Clara’s richness and the glooms that hide behind the surface of her sheltered life; the splendors of the puppets show and the glooms of the life behind the curtains; the splendors of the witch’s castle full of jewels and servants, and the glooms of her unhappy life. 

I really recommend this read to anyone who likes a good story. There was magic, there were great characters whom I was sad to leave at the end, there was an intriguing plot and a beautiful ending. There was everything I look for in a book.  

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Books I've read - 2012

  • 29) The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  • 28) Lyra's Oxford by Philip Pullman
  • 27) I shall wear midnight by Terry Pratchett
  • 26) The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
  • 25) My swordhand is singing by Marcus Sedgwick
  • 24) We have always lived in the castle by Shirley Jackson
  • 23) Paper Towns by John Green
  • 22) The Visitor by Maeve Brennan
  • 21) Affinity by Sarah Waters
  • 20) Extremely loud and incredibly close by Jonathan Safran Foer
  • 19) I was a teenage fairy by Francesca Lia Block
  • 18) The privilege of the sword by Ellen Kushner
  • 17) Mr Vertigo by Paul Auster
  • 16) Hope for the Flowers by Trina Paulus
  • 15) Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce
  • 14) The woman in white by Wilkie Collins
  • 13) Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  • 12) Catching fire by Suzanne Collins (re-read)
  • 11)The hunger games by Suzanne Collins (re-read)
  • 10) Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland
  • 9) Laugh it up! by Tina Ogle
  • 8) A wrinkle in time by Madelein L'engle
  • 7) The hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huebu
  • 6) Sabriel by Garth Nix
  • 5) Briscola in cinque by Marco Malvaldi
  • 4) La trilogia della citta di K by Agota Kristof
  • 3) Due di due by Andrea de Carlo
  • 2) Starter for ten by David Nicholls
  • 1) Il maestro magro by Gian Antonio Stella