Review of The Grace of Wild Things

The Grace of Wild Things The Grace of Wild Things
by Heather Fawcett
Intermediate    Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins    368 pp.
2/23    9780063142626    $17.99
e-book ed. 9780063142640    $10.99

The setting is Prince Edward Island, sometime close to the turn of the twentieth century. “The dirt road was reddish, like all the earth on the island, as if it were flushed with pride at its own prettiness.” A spirited, impulsive orphan—romantic about nature, self-dramatizing, and fond of poetry—is taken in by a grumpy old woman. What the child passionately longs for are connection, friendship, and kindness. So far, so Green Gables—Grace is certainly a literary second cousin to Anne. The twist is that she is also a witch, and so is the grumpy old woman. The plot involves a series of tests, a year’s worth of spellcasting as Grace apprentices to her craft. The stakes are high. If she cannot master all one hundred (and a half) spells, she will lose her magic powers, and thus her identity. A supporting cast includes a crow familiar, a bullying mean girl, a wish-granting fairy (and nascent romantic interest), and a sensible, supportive best friend. This alternative-universe romp is perfect for those who like their fantasy light and sentimental and enjoy a bit of L. M. Montgomery pastiche (yes, the raspberry cordial disaster resurfaces, and there’s even a hint of Matthew).

Pubissue-From the May/June 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Sarah Ellis
Sarah Ellis is a Vancouver-based writer and critic, recently retired from the faculty of The Vermont College of Fine Arts.

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