This is a review of the debut book from superstar Julie Pike. The Last Spell Breather will be published this July 2019 by the lovely Oxford University Press. The beautiful book cover has been illustrated by Dinara Mirtalipova. (I hope I've spelled that right?) It is absolutely stunning and will certainly attract many potential readers. This is a book that I've been looking forward to reading for some time now as it sounded magical. However, the proof is in the reading. As I hold my breath and turn the first page - what will I discover?
After the first chapter, the narrative slowly distills into a story full of spells and unique charm. Rayne and her best friend (Tom) lead you into a story packed with sparkling fantasy adventure. Every page of the book is effortlessly enjoyable. It is very easy to get lost in a magical realm that packs such a fantasy punch. It's a place that you'll just want to explore more and more, especially the GREAT LIBRARY. The imagination and the ideas used in this book are fantastic. Whilst, the magic system feels and is totally original - I loved the concept as it certainly drives the heart of the plot. However, I feel this could have been used more by extending the story to give it greater impact.
This is a book where you can escape into an immersive world for all of the family. There is a lot for the reader to enjoy including fantastic characters and monsters: a talking fox and the very bizarre fish people. However, my personal favourites were the GROTESQUES with their bushy eyebrows which were brilliantly written and very amusing. There are also bouts of warm humour, smugness and a sparkling friendship full of bickering and falling out which slowly builds throughout the story.
The more you read this story, the more the mystery unfolds. It nicely builds-up the tension with an increasing sense of danger and peril. Finally culminating with some heart-stopping, nightmarish moments that I'm sure will make you run for cover. When the last page is eventually turned and the final breath expelled, the magical fantasy encapsulates the reader forevermore. The positive ending will certainly make you want to join the characters and setting once more in another adventure. It would be lovely to see some illustrations in the next book - I feel these would really make the reading experience particularly special. A fantastic new fantasy voice in children's literature.