Hu­mans trapped in snow­globes

Emily Bearn ad­mires this fan­tasy novel with a lyri­cal tone – and a chill­ing premise

The Daily Telegraph - Review - - THE CRITICAL LIST -


288pp, Macmil­lan, £6.99

Amy Wil­son is the ris­ing star of chil­dren’s fan­tasy. But in a Wil­son novel, stars don’t just rise. They “wink over­head be­tween smoky, shift­ing clouds”, peer­ing down on “swash­ing tides of bright whirling snow”. The same might be said for Wil­son’s prose, which is so silky that one reads it al­most in a trance-like state.

The hero­ine of her lat­est novel is Cle­men­tine, a dreamy 12 year-old who is bul­lied at school, and whose mother has mys­te­ri­ously van­ished: “I al­ready know she was no or­di­nary per­son. Pa rarely speaks about her, and when he does, it’s al­ways from so far away.” One day, Cle­men­tine dis­cov­ers a house in her town that she has never seen be­fore, and en­ters to find it full of snow­globes, each with some­one trapped in­side: “The air moves; it sings with the song of a thou­sand worlds: with snow­globes, each one churned up as if it’s just been shaken… each with its own tiny hu­man fig­ure.”

Among those trapped is Dy­lan, a for­mer school ad­ver­sary, who re­lies on her to use her newly dis­cov­ered magic to set him free. As she sets out to re­lease the pris­on­ers, Cle­men­tine finds her­self caught be­tween war­ring fac­tions, and pit­ted against the ter­ri­fy­ing spirit Ganymede, who rules over the globes: “The air around her vi­brates, as though she’s in the cen­tre of a heat haze … ‘Who are you?’ I whis­per … ‘Who am I?’ she shrieks. ‘Who are you?’ Run, run, run, RUN!”

Wil­son feels at home in fairy­tale land­scapes. Her first novel, A Girl Called Owl, was about a child us­ing magic to find her father; A Far Away Magic told the story of a boy liv­ing in an en­chanted house. Snowglobe is more am­bi­tious but, by the end of this sat­is­fy­ing story, Wil­son has left ev­ery thread of the nar­ra­tive neatly tied. And her prose, like the star-stud­ded land­scape, never loses its shine.

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