Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mistress of the Storm by M. L. Welsh


Verity Gallant has always struggled to fit in. Outshone by her perfect sister and tormented by her schoolmates, she knows there is nothing special about her.
But everything changes when the Storm docks at the quiet harbour town of Wellow, and Verity receives an ancient book from a mysterious stranger. It tells the chilling story of the Mistress of the Storm – a story that has been kept from Verity all her life.
Suddenly Wellow is stirring with long-hidden secrets and bitter rivalries. As dark clouds roll menacingly above and Verity begins to uncover the truth about her family’s past, she becomes dangerously entangled in a web of dark magic and powerful revenge.

My first review for Under 14's Only month and I'm absurdly excited. I was kindly given a hardback copy of this book at the Random House book bloggers brunch earlier this year but as the paperback was coming out in June I thought I'd save it until now. As a huge fan of Susan Cooper I've got a soft spot for coastal adventures and the synopsis really intrigued me.

From the synopsis I expected to feel sorry for Verity, pity her even. She's a bit of an outcast at school and finds comfort in her local library where she tends to hide out. Unlike her sister she describes herself as sturdily built and can't find pretty clothes to fit. As a result she's low on confidence but has a quiet strength that I admired. Far from feeling sorry for Verity I was cheering her on from the first few pages when she stoically ignores the boys who steal her schoolbag or put her gym skirt up a tree. Hope comes in the form of Henry, a boy at her school and soon her only friend. Also, her perfect sister may be adored by all around but she's an incredibly sweet character who supports Verity and tries to help her.

Verity's life is jolted into the extraordinary when a stranger gives her a book and her Grandmother comes to stay. The latter is a poisonous woman who clearly hates Verity from the beginning. I was reading with clenched fists as she steals Verity's room and throws away all of her out-of-print and first edition books. At first the grandmother simply throws snide remarks at Verity but soon she shows a more supernatural side and when angry starts to look almost skeletal. The passages that involve the grandmother are totally gripping and eerie. Soon Verity starts to find out more about her own past and with Henry and later Martha at her side she is able to discover how her family history could be tied into current events.

There's so much to love about this book. Firstly, watching Verity grow in confidence as she builds friendships and discovers sailing. Also, this book is so creepy. Verity's mother is pregnant and the book covers three seasons. As the pregnancy progresses so does the feeling of menace. Towards the end I was flying through the pages, almost too scared to continue! I honestly couldn't think of a better book to kick this month off for me. If you like stories that are full of adventure, magic but with a firm footing of solid friendship try this - a wonderful book.

1 comment:

Veens said...

I am sure I would definitely pick this one up! And this a great idea - a month full of under 14 reads :)