Thursday, 23 December 2010

The Iron Bodkin by Amy Allgeyer Cook

September 2010, 
170 pages, Paperback & E-book
Review copy 

Children's, fantasy 

Magic, evil authority figures, mountains of mystery, family life, friendship - ones falling by the wayside and loopy friends, magic with sparkles! very occasional cursing, sibling love

Summary taken from The Iron Bodkin website
Eleven-year-old Lux St. Clare can't do anything right. In a family of famous and powerful witches, even his six year old sister, Umbra, outshines him. 

It's not that he doesn't try, but things just never go the way he plans. This very morning, for instance, he accidentally turns Umbra invisible. Like most powerful magick, invisibility is an illegal skill so when Inquisitors start shadowing his family's store, Lux realizes his "accidents" could have serious consequences. 

Things get worse as Lux struggles to restore Umbra to sight: his friends stop speaking to him, he discovers disturbing secrets about his own home, and worst of all, crazy old Leeward Spinnet starts working in the family store. 

In desperation, he decides to cast an illegal spell to cure his sister, but before he can perform it, Inquisitors kidnap his family. The Inquisitor General, Ambrose Murklin, reveals that he has the Iron Bodkin - an ancient spike that strips witches of their powers - and he intends to use it to end witchcraft for good. 

With his parents under a binding spell and his sister still invisible, Lux is the only one who can save them. The lives of this family, not to mention the survival of the Craft, depend upon Lux. He can't afford any more accidents. 

Nayuleska's thoughts 
This book is a perfect Saturday afternoon read (or a read at any time!) The constant humour had me smiling away, and helped break up the tension in the more harrowing parts. Some parts I wanted to curl up and peek through my fingers, just as you would watching a film. I could feel the love that Lux's family had for each other. Yes they could be annoying at times, but it was a normal family emotion to have. They cared so much that each would take risks to keep the others safe. I loved Lux's character: he had trouble understanding all the secrets around him. He hated being kept out of the loop, and his frustration was well portrayed, as was his disappointment when his friends ignored him. Lux was frightened at points, but he trusted his family to help save him. He feels bad about what happened to Umbra - after all, he was the one who gave her the potion. It feels like Umbra's invisibility will only cause his family problems. In fact it actually saves them later on. 

There are some major plot revelations near the end of the book, which made me happy that there are at least two more books in the series. I feel like we've only just touched the surface on the types of magic and its applications in the Iron Bodkin - especially with rare objects that are highly sought after. The Inquisitors feel evil - it feels like they will pounce on anyone who so much as breathes funny. Lux has to put up with a slightly loopy family friend who isn't all as he seems to be. I loved the mysteries of his family home (and his aunt's). Most of all, I loved Umbra. I still don't know why she couldn't speak, but - even when she was invisible - she managed to convey her feelings to Lux. She may be quiet, but she's hiding great intelligence and a quick thinking mind. I look forward to finding out what she does next. 

Final conclusion 
What fascinates me about books are how so many can take on the same theme, but each is original and exciting. Amy has created a fantastic yet realistic magical world, where using magic has a lot of consequences. These are mostly bad, but they can be used for good. It can bring a family together, and also break it (temporarily) apart. Roll on the next book in the trilogy! 

Amy is a kind and lovely person. She may say that she doesn't like chocolate much - but she won't say no to Cadbury's flake! Find out all about Amy on the Iron Bodkin website

For another good sibling book, check out Eye of the Moon and Eye of the Sun by Dianne Hofmeyr.

No comments: