Published By: Soaring Skies
Released On: 07/07/2021
A sinister plot.A secret city in the sky. A boy with an impossible choice.
Twelve year old Toby has little time for friends or football since his mum fell ill. All he wants is to stay at home and keep an eye on her.
But mysterious things are happening beyond his garden hedge. And who is the strange woman in his attic with her clumsy magic and bothersome bat?
Entangled in adventure, Toby must embark on a dangerous mission. A girl’s life is at stake and time is running out.
I came across Sally’s book on Twitter not long after I was diagnosed with M.E myself, much like the protagonist’s mother. It was almost like fate as it’s not necessarily a book I would grab for normally, being marketed at children and young adults. But I’m glad it found its way to me as I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Yes, we know Toby’s mother has chronic M.E and is bed bound, and this is an essential plot device, but it isn’t made to be entertaining or shocking. It just is what it is. I’m lucky in that my M.E doesn’t seem to be that bad currently, and I’m not bed bound, but I do know some people who can be stuck in their houses for days at a time because their symptoms are so bad. Sally approaches this in such a sensitive way, you can tell she has first-hand experience of it and wants to show “outsiders” what it is like.
I also think this idea of being an outsider is used in a metaphorical way. We have Toby and the witches – both outsiders from each other – but then you have his mother who is an outsider to the healthy, and Toby who is an outsider to ‘normal’ children. It’s a successful metaphor on all parts.
There’s enough magic in this book for it to be whimsical and exciting, but realistic enough that you could imagine it happening. It’s magical enough to entertain the readers – especially children – but subtle enough to not be overwhelming. It’s also an interesting new angle at witches in literature. They aren’t horrible beings with warts on their noses who spend their days bubbling things in cauldrons. They are ‘people’ just like you and me, but with added extras. They could almost be your sister, your mother, your grandma; they just seem lovely and cuddly.
I read that this is the first book in a trilogy, and whilst I can’t automatically see where the story could go, I am more than ready to continue on Toby’s dual adventure – with his mum and his new magical friends.