By Joanne Harris

Doubleday, 504 pages

Reviewed by Nicole Boyde

Joanne Harris is a most wonderful writer with a great sense of description. This book is about magic, which is a mysterious thing and a scary thing for some who don’t really know the true meaning, such as the ‘parents’ of Maddy Smith, and the people of Maddy’s village.

Having everyone suspect you and be frightened by you is not a pleasant feeling and that’s what Joanne made me feel. When reading the book I could feel what Maddy was feeling, I could think and understand what she was thinking. I can only do this when a book flows like a river with nothing in its path.

This story took place in ancient times when goblins, dragons and magic existed, when the power of the Word was everything, when power was a dangerous thing and revenge was like the waves, crashing against the rocks. This book is set in a typical yet great scene for this genre.

Maddy was a very strange and horrible child; at least that is what the villagers thought, all because she made bad things happen and that rune mark on her hand had to be a sure sign that she was evil. However, Maddy was not like that; accidents happened and she was just different. She could not help being born with that mark and chaos ran through her veins like water in a river. Indeed, one of the reasons I had to keep turning the pages was because I was curious about what she was going to do next.  

She made no friends as they were all scared of her. Only one person was not, and that was One-Eye, but he only came at harvest time. Normal little things were of no concern to her but goblins and that statue of a horse down the valley was what mattered. Being very curious she followed One-Eye and that’s when they first met. And she found out that he was one of her kind.

His eye was always covered but it revealed a rune mark. One dry afternoon a stranger passed through the village and as Maddy had nothing to do she followed him. When at last he noticed her and after a lot of pushing, he talked and helped her understand some things.

From this time she knew why she always got in trouble and why unexpected things happened and she learned how to harness her powers and do many things.

In my opinion this relates a lot to ordinary life, how people judge you by your appearance and if you are different they won’t be so nice. We live in a world where Magic is something in a fairytale; at least that’s what some people believe, though others don’t. We also have to harness our powers such as love, greed, ambition, curiosity and all of these things.

By learning to harness them we learn to control them. There are a lot of interesting characters but my favorite was always Maddy. This book is a fantasy/mystery tale. The book relates a lot to Norse gods, since Joan has been very interested in them for a long time, and her knowledge gives the story a feel of reality. There are more to books than what is written, and one can know this by the way you take it and the way you read between the lines.

The questions at the end of this book are a problem for me and I do hope she writes a sequel!

Nicole Boyde is a 13 year old student, currently living in Singapore.