Review Blog

Jan 17 2020

The Little Grey Girl by Celine Kiernan

cover image

The Wild Magic trilogy Book 2. Walker, 2019. 217 pp. 9781406373929. pbk.
In the first book in The Wild Magic trilogy, Begone the raggedy witches, Mup realises that she has magical powers. The Queen from across the border, her grandmother, uses her magic to keep control over her subjects and when she flees with the raggedy witches, Mup's mother is the obvious replacement, but she does not want the power nor does she want to be queen. She is persuaded to leave her own home and move to the Glittering Lands guiding her daughter, Mup, and her husband and their son, Tipper, now a dog, over the strange waterway which marks the entrance to this mysterious place.
The second in the series, The Little Grey Girl, takes up the story as Mam is declared queen, protesting all the while. She is besieged by petitioners, and heads back into her mother's castle to think about what to do next. But during the night, Mup sees a mysterious little grey girl in the courtyard, and calling Crow they go to investigate. It has been snowing fiercely, and Mam's adviser, Firinne, has warned her that this is the old queen's curse and to be watchful.
The castle is still full of memories of the tyrannical past, and Mup grapples with the question of free will, as her mother encourages the people to make up their minds for themselves; she will not tell them what to do.
The characters in this beautifully written book are exceptional: Mup with her strong moral centre is brave and disarming, able to throw lightning from her fingers to keep herself protected from the forces of the evil she feels all around, while Crow the bird that can change into a boy speaks in rhyme.
But the little grey girl intrigues; is she a threat, either a a raggedy witch or someone who needs help. With the long dead Dr Emberly and Crow, Mup descends to the dungeons beneath the castle following the little grey girl, to find out about the drawings she leaves on the walls, which cause such distress. But to find the core of the problem they must fight the dog which holds all the sadness the little grey girl takes from people, a fight which could lead to their deaths.
Kiernan's voice is unique, taking its readers along brave new paths, involving them with a strong, independent young girl hesitantly using her magical powers, but always aware of how it will affect those around her.
Fran Knight

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