Twelve-year-old Willow, her mother, and younger brother, called Wisp, are lucky when they survive a car crash while driving home in a snowstorm. They’re luckier when a couple happen to be out on the road to pull them out of their car and bring them to a B&B in the town of Kismet, Maine, to ride out the snowstorm. Willow starts noticing that the people in Kismet are different: sure, they’re friendly, but they have some secrets. And what’s up with always seeming to know when someone is at the door, or what someone’s dinner order is, before things even happen? Willow is busy trying to navigate her overprotective mother, her sick brother, Wisp, and her crush on one of the local boys, but Kismet’s secrets are seductive, and her mother seems to be drawn in.
The Root of Magic pulled right RIGHT in. It’s kind of an M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village, with a dash of Invasion of the Body Snatchers thrown in, and Kathleen Benner Duble creates a small, supernatural tale with just enough creeping discomfort to keep readers riveted. She’s got great world-building here; she creates a small, almost claustrophobic town where Willow and her family are the clear outsiders, and adds elements with each chapter that tease readers, tempt readers, into pushing further to find out exactly what Kismet’s deal is. The climax had me sitting straight up in bed, insisting on reading the last few chapters, before I turned the lights out, because I wasn’t going to be able to rest until I had it all sorted.
The Root of Magic is great summer reading for your fantasy and your mystery readers. And, in this 90-degree weather, who doesn’t want to read about snow and ice skating?
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