Title: The Magic Place |Author: Chris Wormell | Publisher: David Fickling Books | Genre: Children’s book | 204 pages
I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for the opportunity.
From her cellar bedroom, Clementine dreams of a magic place. And she’s determined to find it one day. But first she must escape from her wicked aunt and uncle and from the Great Black City. With the help of her best friend, Gilbert, a very clever cat, she sets off on an epic journey that just might make her dreams come true.
When you read the synopsis you might expect that this book is somehow whimsical and full of magic. You might think it’s full of adventure and maybe even fun. Truth is, it isn’t. There is a lot of misery in this book.
The main character is Clementine, a young girl, that has lived with her abusive aunt and uncle all her life. She has never left the house, has to cook and clean and is mostly locked into a windowless cellar. She is physically and mentally abused (although nothing too graphic there.) The only creature who ever shows her any kindness is the family’s white cat, Gilbert. (A smart but otherwise ordinary and not magical cat, in case you were wondering.)
The aunt and uncle are a dreadful but interesting bunch. There is something quite wrong with them and not only because of how they treat Clementine but also because in time you will discover that they are keeping a secret that will be their downfall eventually. They are perfect storybook villains.
The book is written in a kind of storybook fashion were the reader is a spectator. While the narrator often speaks directly to the reader, asking questions or referring to the images that are part of the story, you watch things happen to Clementine instead of with her. It made me feel rather detached from the story which is a shame. I couldn’t really build any kind of connection to Clementine, since it was not immersive in that sense.
While I couldn’t really connect, I’m pretty sure that young children will love this book. The story is simple and rather straightforward with a few twists and turns and has a lot of amazing artwork that I really liked and that are an integral part of the story. It’s definitely a book you can read to and with children and I’m sure they will enjoy it.
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