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Review: Fun, fresh, fast-paced YA fantasy debut from Laurie Bell

The epiphany moment came halfway through the first term at high school.

That’s when I realised I didn’t really like EP, the most popular girl in the class – a perfectly nice person but just not my type.

I suspect the feeling was mutual – but we managed to rub along together, probably because we were the only two kids in our form to be promoted to the year group netball squad.

But she could have made life miserable – it’s to her credit she didn’t – because as Miss Popularity she wielded all the power.

But I’ve never forgotten that feeling of being on the wrong side of the in-crowd – and it’s one that Laurie Bell evokes vividly in The Butterfly Stones: Stones of Power Book 1, her magical YA fantasy debut.

Encounter

First day of term and all the girls are goggling at the handsome new boy who, to the fury of the Dummy D’s and the Evil Queens – the school bullies – strikes up a conversation with Tracey Masters, who because of her latent magical powers doesn’t quite fit in.

The encounter took me straight back to my schooldays.

What the blurb says:

Beware! Something is after Tracey Masters, a Mage-kind teen in a mostly non-magical world—a world where people like Tracey are often feared, and oppressed.

Add to this stress a crazy family life, the schizo pressures of school, friends, and bullies, and working a boring job as an assistant at her uncle’s detective agency for magical types, and life is not just hard, it’s chaos! That is, until a mysterious woman walks through the door with a case about a missing necklace known as the Butterfly Stone.

The case seems to be the big break Tracey is looking for to prove herself, and her abilities as Mage-kind.

But she unexpectedly finds herself dangerously connected to it when the evidence takes a turn that reveals secrets from Tracey’s past, and places her friends and family in mortal danger.

Powerful

She also discovers that she’s being hunted by a shadow that senses her magic is the key to unlocking the power it’s after.

The magic within the Butterfly Stone is too powerful to be contained, but if Tracey doesn’t learn how to control it, and escape the threat of the shadow that surrounds it, she could lose everything and everyone she cares about … beginning with her younger sister, Sarah.

Laurie Bell’s first young adult novel is fresh, fast-paced, and fun. It’s filled with what makes life interesting, hard, and yet, worth living.

You’ll believe in magic again, but you’ll also remember that the magic of family and friendship is where life is best lived.

The Butterfly Stone is a lovely story about growing up, discovering yourself and fighting for the things you believe in.

Written with warmth and humour, you don’t have to be a YA reader to empathise with feisty Tracey and her struggle to make sense of a world that most definitely doesn’t always make sense.

Throw in some Harry Potter-ish moments, a villain who’s every bit as nasty as Voldemort and Uncle Don, a good-hearted but not terrible successful private investigator, and, to quote from the cover blurb, this is ‘fresh, fast-paced, and fun’.

A great read – can’t wait for the next instalment.

Review by Sue Featherstone.

Available to buy on Amazon.