What Magic Is This? Holly Bourne

I really loved What Magic is This? By Holly Bourne from Barrington Stoke which seeks out popular authors to create accessible yet not patronising texts for reluctant or struggling readers and dyslexics of different ages with age appropriate themes and characters but careful vocabulary, pacing and typesetting.

Holly Bourne is a super popular author for teens and What Magic Is This? brings her stories to a wider audience and is still appealing to existing fans and that is a wonderful thing.

What Magic is This? Is ideal for teenagers who are fans of magical stories, may have enjoyed the Just Add Magic tv series or been squealing over the reboot of Sabrina the Teenage Witch and other witchy programmes and films. That age of still believing but not quite but hoping desperately in magic. And of course older readers like me!!

Did I mention the edges are sprayed pink??

Trigger Warningdiscussion of self harm (wanting and making efforts to stop)

But ok cover for what magic is this
Cover by Helen Crawford White

Three best friends Sophia, Mia and Alexis are hoping to make magic tonight.

Suspicious that they have already made magic happen they are working with intent tonight; Sophia to help a broken heart, Alexis grieving for the family dog she hated, and Mia to help with the sadness that permeates her being.

Secrets are revealed and truths bite deep as each spell takes it turn making this a night to never forget.

I can’t believe it. I mean I know it sounds a bit up myself but I’ve always assumed, ever since reading Matilda, that I totally have the power to move objects with my mind. And that the only reason I haven’t done it yet it’s because I’ve never given telekinesis the proper time and attention

Oh this book makes me feel seen and very nostalgic on many levels. The absolute belief in ability to move objects by mind power if only the effort put in, the devastating obsession with a boy who is completely unworthy of your affections, the obsession with witches and witchcraft and having a really wobbly sense of self.

This book is a balm to the soul in that regard as many young readers will resonate with one or more of the girls on some level, and I loved the way the friendship is so sweetly described in the silliness as much as the love and concern considering food obsessions and more.

Soon all that remains of the dips is a bowl of crumbs and two empty tubs, scraped clean. We sit back on my carpet cradling our bellies and sighing about what we’ve done to ourselves.

I also love the way that Holly puts a feminist twist on the spells, the ethical side of things is dodgy intending to compel someone to love and the short term effects of knowing the original event (as you will see in flashbacks) may just be a love spell anyway were weighing on Sophia let alone anything more. Without spoilers let’s just say things are beautifully dealt with in a way I’d be happy to let the girls read when they’re old enough…

…and then expect the spells section of the book to be immediately recreated in some way!

I can seriously see many young readers will act out some of this book (I know I would have) so wanting to cast spells for luck, healing, love etc but parents really don’t have to worry about ‘dark’ practices etc. This isn’t a scary witchcraft book, this is really an empowering and loving book about friendship being the magic that we really need.

Maybe it was magic? Or maybe I just need to turn the thermostat up? How are you supposed to know the difference?

Fantastic, would love to see more books like this with a magical, witchy vibe and well done on Barrington Stoke for leading the way with both accessible, heartfelt and fun books.

What Magic is This? By Holly Bourne is published by Barrington Stoke

7 thoughts on “What Magic Is This? Holly Bourne

  1. I picked ip my copy of this from the library over the weekend and I’m really looking forward to reading it soon! I think Holly Bourne’s books are brilliant, but since Spinster Club I’ve kind of felt like her books are really well written, but I can’t quite describe them as enjoyable because they’re very difficult to read in places. But this sounds so fun, so now I’m even more excited than I was already!
    Amy x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This has a few scenes of upset but they are tempered by talking and hugging through the tears ooh which reminds me I have to add a trigger warning. but on the whole it’s such an effervescent book for empowerment, friendship and releasing worries because you are enough.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh I am def going to have to order this and pink sprayed edges just sealed the deal. It sounds so wonderful and yes I completely agree about children wanting to act it out – I certainly did when I was younger and came across such material. It was a wonderful experience and I’m so glad my parents were open enough to let me explore things on my own terms and in my own ways safely. Wonderful review.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve not read any Holly Bourne as they never really seemed my thing, although more so than some – enough to keep me umming and ah-ing about trying her – think this might be a great one to dip my toe in with, specially with the witchcraft stuff too (had to laugh at the matilda quote – glad I wasn’t the only one desperately trying to move things with my mind (and I’m sure convincing myself I’d succeeded!!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is my first Holly Bourne, I know we both aren’t fond of contemporary (although I’m more inclined if it’s got fantasy embedded) and I was persuaded because well Witchcraft and pink sprayed edges and I was delighted to find it such a wonderful uplifting book.
      Oh gosh Matilda was GOALS, I remember the first time I read it I sat in my mum’s armchair and read it cover to cover and decided that I must be like Matilda too hoping to make things move!!

      Liked by 1 person

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