“A young lady should find, in all manner of circumstances and predicaments, a way to be both cheerful and content. Miss Finch’s Little Blue Book (1885)”
Annabel lives by this book, and is a model of propriety and sweetness. Mostly! The only time that circumstances change is on a windy day, when Anabel looks into puddles. She sees things in these puddles which are terrifying, a man and many dark shadows. She has been warned by her mother and maid that she should never gaze into these puddle, but a strange force draws her in.
The reader is given a glimpse of what Anabel saw, and it is a very evil man indeed. He is preparing to take over the magical world in London, and black magic will rule. The next scene shows Anabel arriving by carriage at a strange shop with a suitcase. Her mother has to go overseas urgently, and her girl must go and say with her Aunts. With a happy smile, but sinking heart, the young girl knocks on the door. It is answered by a ferocious looking woman, who shows no concern for Anabel but wants to explain her duties in the Magic Shop. When Aunt Henrietta discovers that Anabel has had no magic training, she is appalled; apparently her mother was a powerful witch who gave up magic for love. Anabel is determined to make the best of things, and so she performs the chores asked of her.
Meanwhile the evil Mr Angel is feeding a machine he has invented with many dark and desperate items. A flower from a coffin, a widow’s hanky with fresh tears, these go into the machine, which then transforms them into shadowlings, who love to obey evil commands. When he has enough of the shadowlings, he will take over all the good witches and wizards of London. There is only one thing that can stop him; a special wand which is safely stored and guarded in Under London.
It seems only a very magical girl can retrieve this wand, and although untrained, and unaware of just what powers she has, our heroine sets off to get the wand. She is joined by Kitty, a young lass who also has magic, but lives outside with the trees and nature. All they have is a map that has been drawn on Anabel’s arm and face, to show them the way. They face terrible challenges, Troll, who wish to cook them, a wall of bones, and a dragon. To outwit and escape these barriers, the girls need to overcome their dislike of each other and cooperate. There are helpful magic devices used along the way. Kitty’s heart light can be hummed up out of her mouth to help in dark tunnels.
Many girls will enjoy the struggle that Annabel has to maintain her belief in herself. After all, she has been chosen as the “Most Magical Girl”. There is always positivity to her thinking, and always the knowledge that her mother will come home.
|Distributor||Allen & Unwin|