Google+ Bookslingers Blog: Heart of Gold

Heart of Gold

Isn't it wonderful when something turns out even better than you'd expected?

Mistress of the Storm by M.L Welsh was one of my favourite middle school books of 2012. So imagine my running-around-the-house-hands-in-the-air excitement when I heard that there was going to be a sequel.
And I love a good silhouette cover
The companion book (although, am I alone in sensing a series?) is Heart of Stone. Brave and contrary Verity Gallant is back with her friends the ingenious Henry Twogood and bookish Martha Platt. It begins on a lazy summer afternoon when Verity, Henry and the dingy Poor Honesty are almost crushed by an avalanche of falling cliff. When they look up, they see a cave that wasn't there before.

This being a children's book, they investigate and find that the wishing well is open again - one of the town's magical mysteries that grants wishes but not nicely. Think the Monkey's Paw. Another Keeper (the powerful witches who control the elements) has awoken and she is still smarting from having her true love stolen by her sister, the Mistress of Storms. The Earth Witch unleashes earthquakes, sandstorms and strange chemistry teachers in an attempt to destroy happy endings from the world. Will Verity and her friends stop her in time?

 There is something deliciously old-fashioned and wonderful about M.L Welsh's books. There are buns and teas and boats and new dresses and benevolent salty-sea-dog grandfathers and a secret society of librarians (!) and just a little romance. Verity is strong, accomplished, dedicated to her families and friends and wears a delightful amount of sweaters. All the characters are as dear and real as anything ('cept for Miranda who is awful).

Wellow is based on the author's childhood on the Isle of Wight. The entire town is infused with myths and legends and stories that become true if you say them aloud. It is a pleasure to explore the world of the Grenry the Usages and the Keepers. It is a wonderful mix of Swallows and Amazons by way of Diana Wynne Jones.

Heart of Stone does the near-impossible feat of being better than the debut.