Hilary McKay, The Time of Green Magic

Macmillan Children's Books, ISBN 9781529019230

Abi's life is changing, and in ways she doesn't like. Her beloved dad Theo is re-marrying. Her wonderful Granny Grace, who has always been there for her since her mother's death when she was ten, is moving back to Jamaica. From being an only child, she now faces being one of three, with two annoying brothers, one older, one younger. Parting from the flat she has always called home and squashing into her step-family's small house is wrenching and disorienting. Abi retreats further and further into her books. They and her Granny Grace's letters are her solace. But then she finds herself tumbling into her books - becoming part of them. When the family moves into an old ivy-covered house with a Narnia lantern, Abi is happier, but her book tumbles keep happening. Strangely, Louis, her new younger brother, for whom the house is scary, seems to experience some of what she sees. When the boys' mother Polly goes away to work abroad so that they have enough money to pay the rent, other mysterious things start to happen. There is a peculiar, disturbing being who appears and disappears. Louis is initially comforted by a strange creature that appears on his bed. At first he thinks it's an owl, but then it appears to be a cat. It grows and grows. It's no longer comforting. It's very frightening. Theo is not aware of it, but to Abi, Louis and older brother Max, it is terrifying. They have no choice but to cooperate to free themselves from all the sinister happenings they are caught up in.

This is a haunting, lyrically written, brilliant book. The portrayal of the difficult emotional journeys Abi and her brothers make is sensitive and realistic. Readers will readily relate to Abi and her stand-offish ways of dealing with the pains of loss and change. Louis's loneliness and vulnerability and Max's turbulent teenage feelings are very well depicted. The peculiar ivy-clad house with its unsettling visitors and events is singularly characterful. There is magic in this book in more senses than one.