Rainy Ireland, bike rides to school, abandoned houses and estates, lost belongings, old books and strange spells: this is, in a nutshell, what you can expect from Moïra Fowley-Doyle’s latest book, Spellbook of the Lost and Found. Last year, I fell in love with her debut and, at the same time, with magical realism, this genre rooted in reality, yet sometimes flying away from it with strange, inexplicable events happening to the characters, the places, everything. It feels a bit like magic rooted in our real world, really. In The Spellbook, we find that very same sensation I had while reading The Accident Season – maybe a little less stronger, though, but still very present, making the read all kinds of magical.
A VERY IRISH SETTING FOR LOST THINGS…
“Be careful what you wish for;
Not all lost things should be found.”
There is no denying that Moïra Fowley-Doyle is a talented writer. With a couple words, she takes us right in Ireland, her country, alongside country roads, rainy days and everything I have come to known and love since I have been there this summer. It was funny, really, to read this book as I was in the very same country – which rarely happens so, points off for reading a book NOT set in the U.S. In this story, we’re following Olive and her best friend, as they start to lose things one after another. Small things, keys, a charm bracelet. Bigger things, things that won’t get spoken of by her best friend, Rose. As events unravel, strange disappearances happen more often than not, the author is setting an uncomfortable, weird atmosphere as we follow the girls trying to figure out everything that’s happening.
INTERESTING, DIVERSE CHARACTERS + FRIENDSHIPS + FAMILY = AMAZING COMBO
“Being with you makes me feel like I deserve to be loved. Like I’m less of a monster. Like if you trust me that means I can trust myself.”
Told from multiple points of view, Spellbook is taking us in Olive, the main character’s mind, but also in Hazel’s, the strange-just-moved-here-girl, not really going to school, living in an abandoned estate with her twin brother, Ronan and their friend, Ivy. There’s also Laurel, part of a group of three girls, taking the lead as she tells her own story.
I’m not really going to spill the beans here and tell you everything about the characters, because it might be spoilery and take away all of the enjoyment for the book. If it took me a little bit of time to get accustomed to the different point of views, I appreciated how they were all quite different and, most especially, how naturally diverse the cast was. Our main character, Olive, is deaf in one ear and bisexual. Rose is bisexual as well; and both girls are experiencing attraction towards boys and girls in the story. Hazel is also gay. What I really appreciated was how naturally it all flew, was part of them and not made a big deal of at any times. All books should be like that, if you ask me.
A great deal of the story is about the friendship building between Olive, Hazel, Rowan, Ivy and I appreciated it so much. Obviously, the story changes at some point and different kind of relationships developed but I loved how friendship felt at the hear of everything here.
This story also brings us something I absolutely love in my books: a supportive, present family…with its own quirks. Olive’s dad, singing poems at the top of his lungs every morning. Olive’s mom – because yes, parents are both there, yes!! Olive’s sister, quite the surprising little feminist. I just loved this family – even if they weren’t too much at the heart of the story, they got their shining moments in the teenager’s life… as they should in every contemporary.
A MYSTERIOUS, FASCINATING STORY…
“If you’re not careful you can spend your whole life looking for what you’ve lost.”
Spellbook of the lost and found quite reads itself like a puzzle, even if, at first, you don’t really get it. The different point of views, the events happening, the elements that are lost and found again, everything are scattered along the pages, for us to put together by the very end. I did not expect the ending to come, I did not expect the revelations to be like that. To be honest, I was clueless for most part of the book – with a slow, but not bothering at all, kind of pacing, the author takes us from one point to another, from the first lost moments to the last revelation, leaving us eager to find ourselves the own magic in our lives, seek that damn spellbook at the top of a tree, hop onto a plane to Ireland, get lost in abandoned estates and just see what happens.
Strange and captivating: The Spellbook of the lost and found will appeal to more than one, fan or newbie in the magical realism genre. With diverse, endearing characters and a mystery at its heart, it’s one book you ought to try, just to try and get lost into what the world could be, with a hint of strange magic in it.
Final rating: 4 drops!
Moïra Fowley-Doyle, Spellbook of the lost and found, Published by Corgi Chidrens, June 1st, 2017.
One stormy summer night, Olive and her best friend, Rose, begin to lose things. It starts with simple items like hair clips and jewellery, but soon it’s clear that Rose has lost something bigger; something she won’t talk about.
Then Olive meets three wild, mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel and Rowan. Like Rose, they’re mourning losses – and holding tight to secrets.
When they discover the ancient spellbook, full of hand-inked charms to conjure back lost things, they realise it might be their chance to set everything right. Unless it’s leading them towards secrets that were never meant to be found . . .
Did you read Spellbook of the lost and found, or do you want to read it? Do you like magical realism – why, or why not?! If you have any recommendations in the genre, I’d LOVE to hear them! Otherwise…what was the last book that was super-weird, but that you ended up enjoying SO much anyway? Let me know in comments!