I started reading this series in preparation for an event that has now been postponed...however I'm so happy I read this. It was quite possibly the sweetest little book ever. I adored the illustrations, which Cressida does herself as well as the writing, as if that wasn't already a mammoth task. I always find it a little difficult to review middle grade because a lot of what I usually look for in a book either isn't present or wouldn't be suitable for that age. I love flowery language but it doesn't really work in a middle grade.
However, I absolutely adored the way this was written. Particularly, the narration. I've always found that I've enjoyed books that break the fourth wall and speak directly to the reader. It adds something to the story and really immerses the reader. I can only imagine that a 9-12 year old would love that feeling of truly being a part of the story.
The story reads more like a fairytale at times with the way different creatures are described and with the overall plot. It has a lot of the typical motifs of a fairytale. The evil queen, wicked witches, animal sidekicks etc but at the same time adds an entirely different spin on that classic form of story. The plot doesn't fit within the realms of a fairytale with the evil queen's daughter being one of the heroes and there isn't really a cautionary message. Aside from don't get witch blood on you which I think is a good idea for most people to follow really.
Xar and Wish simply make me smile. They're celebrated by the ones that truly care about them for their differences which I think is a brilliant message to preach. They don't fit in with their homes version os the ideal Wizard or Warrior but they don't particularly care. Their friendship, though tenuous, is also very sweet.
A brilliant book and I look forward to seeing where the series goes.