14-year-old Alice Towers is the survivor, along with her father, of a horrific car crash, which took the lives of her mother & younger brother. She is not coping well.
They move from London to Devon, where Alice meets Leona Heggarty, a local midwife, who just happens to be a witch of the Coven of Immortal Souls and has been around for a very long time, along with her canine familiar, Black Jack
Leona needs Alice’s help to bring back her apprentice, Magog, who has been trapped for over 300 years in the Dream Realms.
Leona’s evil sister Lillian has other plans for Alice. She wants to use her to bring back something very nasty indeed. The fate of the real world depends on the outcome of Alice’s quest.
It’s a very well-written & gripping book for the most part. I had one small problem, however.
When Alice first begins her travels in the Dream Realms, she has several encounters which seem to be set up specifically so the author can put across her views on certain issues involving mankind’s treatment of wildlife, the environment & each other. It’s not that I didn’t agree with all the points made… I certainly did & the issues are relevant to the plot, but it got a little tiresome & preachy for a short while.
Don’t let that put you off though, as she moves on very quickly & when the narrative does pick up again, it becomes an absolute page-turner.
I should mention here that the Dream Realms are very heavily influenced by Lewis Carroll (naming the heroine Alice was no coincidence) with maybe a little L. Frank Baum & C.S. Lewis thrown into the mix.
Do not, however, by any means assume that this is a children’s book!
When it gets dark, it gets very dark indeed & there’s enough blood, violence & slaughter of innocents to bear comparison with any modern zombie novel. The author doesn’t completely shy away from strong language either, although she doesn’t overdo it, hence the YA/adult rating.
Small faults aside, this is an impressive debut novel. I, for one, am genuinely looking forward to the next book in the series, not only because this one ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger.