Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews
A Most Magical Girl
For ages 9 to 12
Random House, 2016 ISBN: 978-0553512854
For her whole life thus far Annabel Grey’s mother has done everything she could to mold and train her daughter so that one day she will be a proper young lady who can conduct herself perfectly in the genteel Victorian society that she belongs to. Whenever Annabel has had the strange visions that she is prone to her mother has made it clear that such visions will not be tolerated and so Annabel keeps her ability hidden and suppressed.
Now, suddenly and without warning, Annabel’s mother has decided that Annabel needs to live with Henrietta and Estella Vine, her great-aunts, so that she can learn the ways of magic that run strong in their family line. Annabel’s mother was a very skilled witch until she turned her back on her skills and her family to marry a magician (of the non-magical variety).
Unfortunately for Annabel, attending Miss Finch’s Academy for Young Ladies has not equipped her for living and working in a magic shop in a poor part of London. She has never washed clothes or swept floors. She knows nothing about using her magic abilities nor can she feel the flow of magic that threads through everything. She is a great disappointment to her Aunt Henrietta who cannot believe how little Annabel knows about the world of magic.
Annabel barely has time to accustom herself to her new life when a man called Mr. Angel comes into the shop when she is tending it. Mr. Angel tells Annabel that he has returned and has the Black Wand in his possession. Furthermore he has a machine that is producing black magic and when the moon is full in a few days the machine will be capable of producing an “unbounded” amount of black magic. He will raise a shadowling army and wipe out good magic. The man then gives Annabel a letter to give to her aunts.
Annabel and her aunts read the letter and find out that Mr. Angel expects all the members of the members of the Great & Benevolent Magic Society to lay down their wands in capitulation. He seems to think that his takeover is a guaranteed thing.
According to the rules of the society, the youngest and most able member will take on the task of being the Valiant Defender of Good Magic. The frightened girl is told that she must go to Under London to seek out the White Wand, the only wand that can do battle with the Black Wand. Though she is ill-suited to the task Annabel is going to have to fulfill her destiny before good magic is wiped out.
Annabel is then given a broom and a companion, a girl called Kitty who has magic abilities, and sent to see the Finbury Wizards. After a ride broomstick wild across the night sky above London, and a crash through a window, the girls arrive at their destination and the wizards have Annabel, who has the ability to see the future in her visions, a seeing glass to help her with her quest for the White Wand. She can see visions in puddles of water, but she might not always be able to find a puddle when she is traversing Under London to the place where the White Wand is kept.
With her broom, her seeing glass, and the Vine family wand in hand, and with Kitty as her companion Annabel begins her journey. She has no idea what to expect, which is probably just as well because deep beneath the city lies a world full of danger.
This outstanding novel takes us into the heart and mind of a girl whose whole life is turned upside down when she finds out that she belongs to a long line of witches. She is called on to do what seems impossible, and yet she is “a most magical girl” in more ways than one, and therefore she rises to the challenge. Along the way she finds friendship, courage, and she learns that she is capable of remarkable things.