Published by Usborne, 2022.
I really enjoyed the originality and imagination of Spellstoppers, the début novel by Cat Gray.
Max has spent years thinking he is cursed because whenever he touches anything electrical it explodes. But then he is sent to Yowling – a secretive, magical seaside village – to stay with his grandad. Not long after arriving, Max discovers that he is a Spellstopper, someone with the rare ability to drain dangerous build-ups of magic and fix misbehaving enchanted items.
When Max’s grandad is kidnapped by Leandra, the cruel Keeper of the malfunctioning magical castle that dominates the bay, only Max’s powers can save him. Together with his new friend Kit, Max throws himself into a rescue mission.
Yowling is populated by a wonderful mix of eccentric magical people, from ghosts to sand witches, selkies and a man who is part-frog. The magic they cast is the type I can totally get on board with: baking cakes which remain untouched even after you’ve taken a bite, anticipating and creating the exact ice-cream combination you’re thinking of, and then there’s the teapot that pours whichever drink you fancy.
There’s dark magic too: evil owls, sinister shadow people and man-eating goldfish for whom human flesh comes in as a close second (after dog food) as their meal of choice. Leandra is hellbent on destruction and terrorises the people of Yowling, meaning that they live in fear – hidden away from her tyrannical ways.
I loved the lead characters, especially their resilience. Rescuing Max’s grandad is not at all straightforward and the pair have their plans thwarted a number of times. Yet, despite this, they persevere. Spellstoppers is a terrific book about friendship, family, bravery and embracing your uniqueness.
Suitable for children aged 8+
Thank you to Usborne for sending me this book to review.