The youngest of her friends, Beatrice Bailey is only now coming up to her twelfth birthday, where all witches are classified by the Witches’ Executive Committee. There’s no surprise really – her family’s Reform, and most Classical witches come from Traditional families. It’s almost a given that, like her friends and her parents, Beatrice will be an Everyday witch. But when the thirteen members arrive Beatrice is surprised – her ancestors, the Bailiwicks (shortened to Bailey when they decided to mix with mortals and become Reform) were Classical witches, and the eldest daughter of every generation is challenged to break a centuries old spell cast by Dally Rumpe, an evil sorcerer. If she succeeds then Beatrice will free part of her family, and perhaps be found to be a Classical witch after all. Even if she’s not really that interested.
This is an entertaining, if light weight, fantasy for younger readers. Beatrice’s interest in more mundane pursuits is a nice counterpoint to the magic, and the pace is steady but not overwhelming. Though accompanied by three friends, boys Ollie and Cyrus, and best friend Teddy (an ardent would-be Classical witch), this is very much Beatrice’s journey, and she makes an engaging heroine. There’s a little wit and humour, and the writing is well targeted at the intended audience, a few steps down from the Harry Potter age group. – Alex