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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Magical Monday Review: Magic and Mayhem by Marcus Sedgwick

Hugely funny and highly inventive fun for 7+

Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Title: Magic and Mayhem
Series The Raven Mysteries 5
Genre: Gothic Humour (childrens)
Publisher: Orion Children's
Published: Apr 2012

Source: review copy kindly sent by the publisher

Find it at Goodreads or Amazon UK

The blurb says...
Join the wonderfully weird Otherhand family and their faithful guardian, Edgar the raven, and discover the dark secrets of Castle Otherhand. 

A trip to the circus has far-reaching consequences for the Otherhands when Fellah goes missing. Before long the Castle is plagued by a duck, a suspect fortune teller, and several cartloads of lethal cabbages. The family is preoccupied: Valevine is busy inventing a cabbage-counting machine; Minty is waiting to hear the secrets of the universe; and Solstice has discovered that Cudweed is concealing three hundred and forty-two rabbits in his bedroom. When chaos strikes and thieves infiltrate the Castle, it falls to Edgar to extract his family from a very fluffy predicament.

My verdict: hilarious fun. Highly recommended series for 7+.
I love this series! Narrated by the family raven, Edgar, we see the Otherhands in all their crazy glory through his dry and witty voice. There is enough madcap action in these books to entertain 7 yr olds, while Edgar's voice carries enough subtlety and sarcasm to amuse teens and adults too.

As well as Edgar's fabulous narration, the story is chock-full of madcap characters, from head of the family Valevine with his incredible new invention to count cabbages, to the youngest, Cudweed, with his new-found friends Mucky Duck and  Mr Whiskers the hamster in a top hat and dinner jacket. The only sane and sensible character is the lovely Solstice, who keeps Edgar in check and solves the mysteries.

The plot in this case is sufficiently complex to surprise, yet made clear enough for the youngest Otherhand fans to follow. Combining disparate elements gives the overall story a farcical element that is sure to have kids giggling, particularly delivered in Edgar's disapproving tones.

The quirky line illustrations support the text perfectly, complementing the story and adding to the overall goth atmosphere.

All in all, this in a fantastic package for young readers, which I greatly recommend. A confident reading level is needed to appreciate these stories, but the books can also readily be enjoyed as a shared read.

1 comment:

  1. Lethal cabbages! That's hilarious! This is what I love about writing for children. You can take the story that bit further. They have such a refreshingly untainted view of life.

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