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Friday, August 5, 2016

A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee {review, interview, giveaway}

I'm so excited to be sharing Karen Foxlee's newest amazing middle-grade book, A Most Magical Girl! Below, you'll find my review, an author interview, and book giveaway...

A Most Magical Girl
Karen Foxlee
August 2, 2016
Knopf BFYR
Source: from pub for review
From the author of Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy comes the story of a friendship between two girls set in Victorian England, with magical machines, wizards, witches, a mysterious underworld, and a race against time.
Annabel Grey is primed for a proper life as a young lady in Victorian England. But when her mother suddenly disappears, she’s put in the care of two eccentric aunts who thrust her into a decidedly un-ladylike life, full of potions and flying broomsticks and wizards who eat nothing but crackers. Magic, indeed! Who ever heard of such a thing?

Before Annabel can assess the most ladylike way to respond to her current predicament, she is swept up in an urgent quest. Annabel is pitted against another young witch, Kitty, to rescue the sacred Moreover Wand from the dangerous underworld that exists beneath London. The two girls outsmart trolls, find passage through a wall of faerie bones, and narrowly escape a dragon, but it doesn’t take long for Annabel to see that the most dangerous part of her journey is her decision to trust this wild, magical girl.

Sparkling with Karen Foxlee’s enchanting writing, this is a bewitching tale of one important wand and two most magical girls.

Prim and proper Annabel Grey knows nothing of magic, witches, flying broomsticks, or her two unusual aunts...but when her mother suddenly decides to take a mysterious trip, Annabel is sent to those two aunts and thrust into a dark, dangerous, and dazzling world of magic. A most sinister man and his dreadful machines have dark, deadly plans for Victorian England and it is up to young Annabel, a most magical girl, to retrieve the powerful Moreover Wand and save the day. Annabel is accompanied on her journey by Kitty, a surly, mysterious girl with magic of her own. These two young magical girls must learn to trust each other or all will be lost.

Karen Foxlee’s newest middle-grade, A Most Magical Girl, is just that: MOST magical! I love everything about this book, from its sparkling storytelling, spine-tingling twists, enthralling setting, and irresistible heroines. Foxlee has true magic in her words and weaves a pitch-perfect and expertly paced story full of imagination, page-turning excitement, and unforgettable characters. A Most Magical Girl has the most deliciously dark whimsical vibe, with lush, enchanting storytelling and world-building. The magical elements, from flying broomsticks, spells, wands, trolls, dragons, faeries, and more, feel classic, yet completely unique in their quirkiness. Young readers will be dazzled and inspired by this magical world!

Annabel and Kitty are two fantastically different, yet equally engaging heroines! Prim, thoughtful Annabel and wild, mischievous Kitty make for a charming and unforgettable pair. I just loved watching their friendship and admiration for each other blossom. And Foxlee offers readers a thoroughly enticing and complex villain.

Foxlee sends her heroines, and readers, on an exhilarating adventure with plenty of thrills, chills, surprises, and gasp-worthy moments, leading up to a completely satisfying and dynamite ending!

My final thoughts: A Most Magical Girl is a gorgeous, fantastical new middle-grade that is sure to charm and dazzle readers!

5/5 Cupcakes

Q1. What three words best describe your book, A Most Magical Girl?

Magical Moving Adventure

Q2. Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers, especially reluctant readers, to give A Most Magical Girl a try?  

You’ll need to be brave to follow Annabel and Kitty on their quest into Under London, a dark place, filled with secret rivers and trolls and even dragons….can you do it?

Q3. Grab a copy of A Most Magical Girl and answer the following:
Favorite page? Page 201: Where Hafwen, the grumpy troll, describes what she loves about the sky.

Favorite chapter? Chapter 13: Where Kitty and Annabel wake surrounded by trolls.

Favorite setting? I love the magical storeroom in the magic shop, filled floor to ceiling with strange liquids and candles and stones and of course….feisty broomsticks.  

Flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser: It started deep down in her toes, and she hummed it up and coughed a heart light from her mouth.  Kitty was full of magic that she did not understand.  

Q4. What inspired A Most Magical Girl? How did the story come to be?

It was a place I’d been to and a little bit of daydreaming that inspired A Most Magical Girl. I was lying on my sofa thinking about a museum I’d visited years ago.  This museum contained a recreated Victorian era street.  I imagined that street and saw a carriage arrive there and a girl step down.  She had her fair hair in ringlets and her head held high although I sensed straight away she had a secret.  She stood before a shop and read the words printed on the glass; MISS E & H VINE’S MAGIC SHOP.  That’s how it began.  I had no idea what was going to happen but it seemed like a pretty good idea for a story!

Q5. Can you tell us a bit about your heroines, Annabel and Kitty? What makes them special and what do you love about them?

Annabel is a pretty rich girl who has been to Miss Finch’s Academy for Young Ladies.  She can speak French and sew and dance and play the piano.  She really has life as a perfect young lady to look forward to except she has a secret.  She can see the future in puddles.  She has magic inside her and she is ashamed by it and desperately trying to understand it.   I think the thing I love most about Annabel is her goodness.  She is polite and kind no matter what the circumstances.  In fact her whole world is crumbling and she remains good and tries so hard and never gives up.  

Kitty, is Annabel’s opposite, she is poor and lives on the streets, sleeping rough in cemeteries and parks. She is known as a betwixter, a girl with one foot in our world and one in the magical.  She can hear trees and rivers speaking and do business with the little folk. I think the thing I love most about Kitty is her magic.  She doesn’t really understand it or even try to.  She just accepts it and lets it be.  I wanted her to represent the lost parts of London; the old rivers and last remnants of woods and the magic beings that dwelled in these places.  I also think she is very brave.   

Q6. Annabel and Kitty encounter some fantastic creatures...what magical creature would you most love to meet?

I think I would love to meet faeries.  I thought about them a lot as a child.  I remember worrying about them.  What size were they? Did they live in Australia or only colder places like England? Could one fit inside my Barbie Camper Van?  If I found one would it want to stay with me or would it pine for its faery friends. As a teenager I was obsessed with the poem “The Changeling” by Charlotte Mew because sometimes I felt like a changeling.  Now my daughter writes beautiful letters to faeries, asking them lots of questions. She builds them houses in the hope they will come to live in her bedroom.  Yes, I would love to meet a faery.

Q7. Will there be more stories about and adventures for Annabel and Kitty?!

In my heart there are lots more adventures for Annabel.  And Kitty? We’ll have to wait and see.

Q8. What’s the BEST thing about writing middle-grade fiction?

To tell the truth all the stories I write start off as stories for me first. They are just beautiful puzzles I have to solve.  But the BEST thing about writing middle-grade fiction, is meeting young people at events.  Seriously incredible young people with so many great ideas and opinions and questions and thoughts and whenever I meet them I get this great feeling that the world is going to be okay.

Q9. Fill in the blanks:
I’m really awesome at baking.

I’m really embarrassed to admit I’m terribly scared of the dark.

The last great book I read was Withering-by-Sea by Judith Rossell (fantastic middle-grade fiction!).

Q10. If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by A Most Magical Girl, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?  

Nice question! I would love to bake many cupcakes and on each one of them pipe the magical word BENIGNUS in gold edible icing.  

Karen Foxlee trained and worked as a nurse for most of her adult life and also graduated from university with a degree in creative writing. She is the author of The Midnight Dress and The Anatomy of Wings, which Markus Zusak called “so special that you want to carry it around for months after you’ve finished, just to stay near it.” Karen Foxlee lives in Gympie, Australia, with her daughter.

Win a copy of A Most Magical Girl!
The wonderful folks at Penguin Random House have offered up two books for two winners.
-US only
-ends 8/13
-each winner will get one copy
-winner will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
-Word Spelunking is not responsible for lost, damaged, or stolen prizes
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Slowsly said...

This sounds like an exciting and interesting book. I was hooked by the summary. Give me a good magical book set in the Victorian age and I'm happy.

Danielle H. said...

Wow! this book has everything--magic, a dragon, witches, and historical setting. I love this idea!

Lynnette said...

This sounds like an excellent adventure! My students will love it!

Carl Scott said...

What a wonderfully positive review. It sounds like we're really in for something special. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.