Thank you to Walker Books and Netgalley for the review copy in exchange for an honest review. This does not change my opinion in anyway.
Book: The House at the Edge of Magic by Amy Sparkes
Release Date: January 1st 2021
Tags: Fantasy | Middle Grade | Orphan | The One | Found Family | Troll
Nine is an orphan pickpocket determined to escape her life in the Nest of a Thousand Treasures. When she steals a house-shaped ornament from a mysterious woman’s purse, she knocks on its tiny door and watches it grow into a huge, higgledy-piggeldy house. Inside she finds a host of magical and brilliantly funny characters, including Flabberghast – a young wizard who’s particularly competitive at hopscotch – and a hideous troll housekeeper who’s emotionally attached to his feather duster. They have been placed under an extraordinary spell, which they are desperate for Nine to break. If she can, maybe they can offer her a new life in return…
The House at the Edge of Magic suggests a very magical kind of story. Adding in that very gorgeous and bright cover of the house in the story, and it sends an instant appeal.
The idea of Nine finding a house shaped ornament that grows into a big house, where she gets drawn into their curse and trouble sounds quite fantastical. And gives room for all kinds of imagination for the middle grade reader. If this and that is possible, what else could be possible in this world?
Unfortunately the story didn’t quite deliver. A lot of that had to do with the plot, the writing and the characters. What you often see, unfortunately, is that authors make things the simplest of simple for middle grade readers when that really isn’t needed at all. This is what happened with the plot and the writing. It is in a way chewed out. Simple, no notch of subtlety. It didn’t even really make sense. And it is a shame because there is so much imagination in the initial idea and world, that then gets stumped.
Simplicity doesn’t have to be bad but at least dress it up. There is an attempt at fun characters but it needed so much more depth. Again, middle grade readers can totally deal with multi depth characters, especially in literature. Nine had the emotional range of a stick. Flabberghast just plays one role as The Wizard. Did he have emotions besides anger? And then there was the soft hearted troll housekeeper who just got shat on.
In the end I rated this book 3 stars on goodreads because I do think this book can be fun for a middle grade for a one time read. But there is nothing here to make a reader come back to the story or the world. It is forgettable.