The School Between Winter and Fairyland by Heather Fawcett
A compelling mystery inspired by Welsh folklore that explores class structure, grief, friendship and family dynamics.
Twelve-year-old Autumn Malog is a beastkeeper at the enchanting Inglenook school for magicians. Her twin brother has mysteriously disappeared, presumed eaten by the land’s most feared monster, the Hollow Dragon. But Autumn is convinced she’s heard him calling to her from within the school’s walls. She desperately wants to find him, but knows time is running out.
Around her, life goes on as usual. She has her job to do. She is a servant and caretaker of the school’s beasts and dangerous creatures. Her family, a long line of beastkeepers, have the speech (using their minds) to communicate with monsters. And, must have the monsters ready for the young magicians each lesson.
When Cai Morrigan, a popular young magician prophesied to one day kill the Hollow Dragon, agrees to help Autumn find her brother, the quest begins, and many of the school’s dark secrets are unearthed.
What Lockdown? Who can’t travel?
Not since, dare I say it, Harry Potter have I been transformed into a magical world so effortlessly and wanted to stay there. Maybe it was lockdown, maybe I needed an escape, well I totally got one. I was taken into this world of magic, adventure, intrigue, friendship, monsters and family so effortlessly and joyfully that I didn’t want to ever leave.
The story is a winner with a gutsy young protagonist and some well-placed twists throughout. But it was the world-building, humour, heart and endearing characters that truly won me over. I particularly enjoyed the relationship between Autumn and the Boggart, that I just didn’t want it to end.
I’m out of the world now, of course, as I write this, but I’d go back in a heart-beat.
Author: Heather Fawcett
Publisher: Allen and Unwin, Australia, 2021
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