Title: Spellbook of the Lost and Found
Author: Moira Fowley-Doyle
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Freaky, LGBTQI, Magical realism
Dates read: 16th – 21st April 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: Big bones, big meat, I’m a meal of a girl.
One stormy summer night, Olive and her best friend, Rose, begin to lose things. It starts with simple items like hair clips and jewellery, but soon it’s clear that Rose has lost something bigger, something she won’t talk about.
Then Olive meets three wild, mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel and Rowan. Like Rose, they’re mourning losses – and holding tight to secrets.
When they discover the ancient spellbook, full of hand-inked charms to conjure back lost things, they realize it might be their chance to set everything right. Unless it’s leading them towards secrets that were never meant to be found…
I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this novel. It is my first by Moira Fowley-Doyle, it is my first magical realism story and although the blurb sounded intriguing, it’s probably not one I would have picked up based on the cover. It was suggested as part of the Around the Year in 52 Books reading challenge. And boy am I glad. I absolutely loved this book.
The three different storylines set throughout this story seem to stretch an age, but, in reality they only take about a week. The different perspectives (some on the same moments, some on very random experiences) move you along at a kind of slow pace time wise. But in activities… it’s a whirlwind of intrigue, adventure and social context.
Fowley-Doyle isn’t afraid to talk about marginalised teenagers. Of the five main characters, two are severely abused, one is from a not so healthy background (but not abusive), one has what would be considered a disability, and they are all kind of messed up, but in different ways. This doesn’t include the fact that the sexual orientations in this story range from hetero to homosexual and through the gambit of bisexual. There’s honestly a character that everyone can recognise themselves in. And that’s not even beginning to touch on the discussions around women’s rights!
I had to create a “freaky” shelf in my collection for this book. Not because this was scary (that’s the horror shelf), but because after turning the last page, I lay in bed feeling stunned and incredibly uncomfortable. Most tales that deal with magic blur the lines, but still have that element of fantasy in it. This tale doesn’t do that. Even in the closing, there are moments when they seem to explain away all of the weird happenings, but just not quite… the darkness that seeps through the story kind of lingers. And it just feels… well, beautifully, tragically… freaky.
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