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Review by Suze
Thirteen-year-old Owl has an artistic mother, that's why she has a strange first name. Her mother often tells her stories about frosted faraway places filled with magic, but she doesn't tell Owl what she wants to know the most, who her father is. Owl can talk about her problems with her best friend, but she keeps feeling alone. Drawing owls help her to feel a bit of comfort, but she misses having a father.
When frost starts to appear on Owl's skin Owl doesn't know what's happening to her. As the issue doesn't go away Owl has to ask herself if this strange ability is linked to her father. Who is he and how can she get her mother to talk about him? Is the world her mother has been describing for years actually real? What will happen when Owl starts believing these strange stories, will she be able to step into the world of winter and find out who she is?
A Girl Called Owl is a beautiful story about a girl who wants to get to know her father. Owl misses part of her ancestry and wants to know where she comes from, which is a great theme for a story. Amy Wilson combines this with a gorgeous magical world filled with frost and snow, which works very well. Owl is kindhearted and artistic. She's a talented girl, but she's also feeling alone. She desperately wants to prove herself, which keeps getting her in trouble. Step by step she'll learn, but everything has a price. Owl has a lot of growing up to do and her journey is difficult, but special. I couldn't wait to discover where her adventures would lead and loved the direction Amy Wilson has chosen for Owl's story.
A Girl Called Owl is filled with gorgeous descriptions of snow and ice. I love a good winter story and Amy Wilson makes her world come to life incredibly well. I liked the name she's chosen for her main character, how she combines myths with reality and the many surprising twists and turns that are making her story interesting. I also enjoyed reading about Owl's close friendships and admire the way Amy Wilson writes about the value of family. Owl's adventure is gripping, spellbinding and moving at the same time. I really loved this amazing story.
A Girl Called Owl is a beautiful fairytale suitable for both children and adults. If you love a good winter story you should definitely read this book.
About Amy Wilson
I have a background in journalism and live in Bristol with my young family. I’m a graduate of the Bath Spa MA in Creative Writing and have many owls in my house, from drawer handles to cushions. I’m still waiting for them to speak to me! A Girl Called Owl is my first novel, my second, A Far Away Magic, will be published by Macmillan Children’s in January 2018, and I’m now working on my third!
By Amy Wilson
The first book I ever truly fell in love with was The Magicians of Caprona, by Diana Wynne Jones. I read it when I was eleven, and just about to start secondary school. A lot of things were going on, and most of them weren’t in my control, but reading was something I could always rely on. And reading this one book changed everything.
For all the time I was reading it, magic was real, and children who didn’t quite fit in were able to achieve the most wonderful things. Their differences empowered them, and their adventure gripped me from start to finish. I spent time with them, felt for them, urged them on when they struggled, laughed and cried with them. That was a magic all of its own, and I knew then that wanted to write. I wanted to inhabit these magical worlds, as much and as often as I could.
It’s been quite a long time since I first read that book, and a lot has happened over the years, but that urge to escape into adventure is just as strong as ever, and that’s why I hope I will always have a little magic in my books. It doesn’t have to be all-singing, or even be the main theme of the book, but it will always be present, almost an extension of possibility, of what we truly experience day to day, in the people around us, and the world itself.
In A Girl Called Owl I drew on the magic of the natural world, and thought about how it would feel to harness some of that raw power. To have winter in your hands, to feel its magic, to see closer than ever how beautiful and how terrible it can be. Transformative, but also, for Owl, completely natural – a part of growing up, of discovering who you truly are.
In my second book, A Far Away Magic, out in January, I’ve focused on the magic of what we have inside us, and the power of friendship. How that also could be transformative, and how, if faced with world perils, one person might make all the difference to the fight. How all of our experiences, and how we handle them, add up to who we are, and how we perceive the world. How, even if we are struggling, we can make a difference to those around us.
I still have that old copy of The Magicians of Caprona. I wrote my name in it at least twice, and it’s looking very battered and worn. The magic is still in there though - I don’t know where I’d be without it.