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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Review: Begone the Raggedy Witches by Celine Kiernan

Begone the Raggedy Witches 
(The Wild Magic Trilogy #1) 
By Celine Kiernan 
September 11, 2018 
Candlewick Press 
Source: ARC from pub for review 

When witches kidnap her dad, Mup is swept up in a wild tide of magic that carries her to another world. Can she reunite her family and find her way back? 

On the night that Aunty dies, the raggedy witches come for Mup's family. Pale, cold, and relentless, the witches will do anything for the tyrannical queen who has outlawed most magic and enforces her laws with terror and cruelty -- and who happens to be Mup's grandmother. When witches carry off her dad, Mup and her mam leave the mundane world to rescue him. But everything is odd in the strange, glittering Witches Borough, even Mam. Even Mup herself. In a world of rhyming crows, talking cats, and golden forests, it's all Mup can do to keep her wits about her. And even if she can save her dad, Mup's not sure if anything will ever be the same again. First in a new trilogy by Irish author Celine Kiernan, this tale of family and forbidden magic charts a fresh path through the landscape of beloved fantasy tradition -- and promises to bewitch any reader in search of stories to love. 


The night Mup’s Aunty dies the Raggedy Witches come and kidnap her dad, setting Mup, her baby brother, loyal dog, and Mam (mom) on a journey across worlds to rescue him. In this new, witch filled world, Mup learns that her Mam was born here and her grandmother is the terrible queen who fills her people with dread. Most magic is outlawed and rebels are severely punished. Once in Witches Borough, Mup’s Mam begins to act differently and even Mup herself begins to fill different. With help from beyond the grave, a talking crow, and her own fierce determination to save her dad, Mup’s adventures in this dazzling world begin. 

Celine Kiernan’s Begone the Raggedy Witches is a dazzling first book in a new middle-grade series full of fantastical fairy-tale elements, imaginative fantasy, lovely storytelling, and likable young characters. 

Kiernan spins a magical story with a lush, whimsical atmosphere and classic fantasy elements. The extraordinary world Mup finds herself in, full of shape-shifting witches and spine-tingling magic is gorgeously described and crafted. Kiernan is clearly a talented storyteller with a delicate, fairy-like touch. While this magical world is richly presented in Begone the Raggedy Witches, I found myself longing for a little bit more about its full history and people, and hopefully this will be explored more in the next two books. 

I really enjoyed the young characters from sweet, silly Tipper, determined Crow, and of course, brave, compassionate Mup. From her explosion of colors-outfit to her fierce need for justice, her unwavering belief in family, and her quick thinking, Mup is a wonderful and endearing young heroine. I was a bit disappointed in the adult characters, especially Aunty and Mam, who sometimes feel a bit stilted and inconsistent, but the young characters more than make up for that. 

Begone the Raggedy Witches offers a satisfying ending with the hope of more adventures and magic to come, and I look forward to joining Mup in future stories. 

4/5 Cupcakes

Celine Kiernan is an award-winning author of fantasy novels for young adults, and is represented by Mulcahy Associates, London. Her critically acclaimed work combines fantasy elements with the exploration of political, humanitarian and philosophical themes. She is best known for The Moorehawke Trilogy, a dark, complex trilogy of fantasy YA books set in an alternative renaissance Europe. First published in Celine’s native Ireland in 2008, the trilogy has since been published in 15 different territories, and translated into 10 different languages. In 2009 the first book of the Moorehawke Trilogy, The Poison Throne, won The Readers’ Association of Ireland Award for best book; it was included in the White Raven Collection and short listed for the 2009 Irish Book Awards in two categories (Best Newcomer and Best Children’s Book senior category). In 2010 it was long-listed for an Australian Silver Inky Award. 

Celine’s fourth novel, Into the Grey (aka Taken Away) – a YA ghost story set in 1970′s Ireland – won the 2012 CBI Book of the Year (formerly The Bisto award) and the CBI Children’s Choice Award. It is the first book to have won both categories. It won the RAI Book of the Year 2013, and has been shortlisted for the Sakura Medal (English High) 2014. In 2013 the Irish Times named it as one of the best children’s books of the past 25 years. It was listed An American Library Association (ALA) Best Fiction for Young Adults title 2015. 

Born in Dublin, Ireland, 1967, Celine has spent the majority of her working life in the film business, and her career as a classical feature character animator spanned over seventeen years, before she became a full-time writer. 

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