Begone the raggedy witches by Celine Kiernan

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The wild magic Trilogy: Book 1 Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781406366020
(Age: 10-14) Highly recommended. Themes: Fantasy. Witches. Good and evil. Strong female character. On their way home from the hospital, where Mup's great aunt lies dying, Mup sees the raggedy witches flying along, leaping from tree to tree and following their car. When they fail to persuade Mup's Mam to go with them, they kidnap her father and the family is forced to try and rescue him. On the other side of the border the land is strange and Mam is powerful and strong. Mup realises that she too has witch's powers and is caught up in the struggle of the land between the evil Queen and those who oppose her.
Lyrical prose and wonderful characters made this a story that is hard to put down. The world of the witches is described in detail, and the magic that happens there is unique, frightening and fascinating. There are people who can turn into birds, Mup's little brother is turned into a dog who speaks so that he can keep up on their swift journey and Crow the boy that Mup befriends is a raven who must talk in rhyme.
Mup is an outstanding character, thoughtful, caring and brave, and her courage and moral conviction about good and evil, shines out in the book. As well as many exciting adventures that drag the reader along at break-neck speed, there are dilemmas too that must be considered by the reader. Did Aunty make the right decision in keeping her niece away from the land where she had magical skills and could have been a good leader? Should Crow's mother been more loving and caring? Should people stand up against a tyrannical leader?
This is an exciting and compelling read that will appeal to all lovers of fantasy. It was so original and interesting that I finished it in one sitting and look forward to the next in the series.
Pat Pledger