Humans trapped in snowglobes
Emily Bearn admires this fantasy novel with a lyrical tone – and a chilling premise
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.