The school between winter and fairyland by Heather Fawcett

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Autumn is 12 years old and lives as a beastkeeper for the neighbouring school for trainee magicians. Sadly, her life has been ripped apart since her twin brother, Winter, went missing the year before. Autumn holds out hope that he will reappear, even though most around her assume he is dead, the victim of the Hollow Dragon. Into her world of sadness arrives Cai Morrigan, a young student magician who has been prophesied to save the neighbouring forest and the  magician’s world… and defeat the Hollow Dragon, and maybe even restore Winter to his sister. Cai becomes a true friend and Autumn’s determination and fierce attitude links with his gentle nature to reveal truth and solve the magical mystery of his life. Autumn’s beast-husbandry skills are not in the same echelon as Cai’s star-wielding magical skills, but they grow to depend on each other in their quest to find and release Winter and to solve the prophecy that rules like a cloud over Cai’s life.

This is a fantasy saga that is full of incredible monsters and magical powers and it is written with a dusting of humour, intrigue and the power of family and friendship. For lovers of fantasy this will be another enigmatic escape. It is written well, with monsters and magic that do not dominate but have their own ‘charm’.  It is the interpersonal drama between the young protagonists that is the strength of the story, with friendship across class lines explored. This is a powerful fantasy and could be recommended to readers aged 11-16 who have enjoyed the Harry Potter and Morrigan Crow series.

Themes: Fantasy, Magic, Friendship, Dragons.

Carolyn Hull