Witches, vampires, trolls, faeries… a feisty neurodivergent heroine and glamour, glamour glamour! Prepare for a magical adventure on the streets (and in the bookshops) of Edinburgh…
It goes without saying I am a huge Elle McNicoll fan! She is one of my favourite children’s authors and A Kind of Spark is without a doubt, one of my favourite books of recent years. I will always remember where I was and how I felt when reading it and couldn’t see how it could be matched. Then Elle gave us Show Us Who You Are and I was a wobbly teary mess! Two words: Chapter Thirteen (if you know, you know!) And it left me thinking, does it really get any better than this…?
Well in short, yes, it does actually. Whilst continuing to represent neurodiversity, Elle has taken her writing in a completely different direction, showing astonishing versatility and depth as an author – is there any end to this woman’s talents?
Like A Charm, the first book in an #OwnVoices duology sees Elle make her fantasy debut. I was completely swept up once again by Elle’s signature compassion and her pursuit of representation for neurodivergent young people. Like Elle, protagonist 12 year old Ramya Knox has a diagnosis of Dyspraxia, a condition that affects motor skills and processing, but she refuses to let this define her.
Ramya’s busy, news broadcaster parents have moved her from London to Edinburgh close to her mother’s family. There’s a huge rift that’s gone on for years between Ramya’s mother and her sisters – Aunt Leanna and Aunt Opal – but a sudden event throws the family back together.
A mysterious stranger appears at a family gathering and tells Ramya she has a gift; she can see through glamour, the magical camouflage that supernatural creatures use to hide. It’s not long before she discovers that the city is full of them. As she is pulled into her family’s world of secrets and spells, she sets out to discover the truth behind The Hidden Folk of Edinburgh, armed with only her late grandfather’s notebook and three words of warning concealed within it’s pages: Beware the Sirens.
Ramya and her cousin Marley are plunged into an adventure that will change everything. There’s a malevolent force at work and she’s about to learn that there are more to her powers than she ever imagined.
You can watch Elle talk about Like A Charm on her YouTube Channel and find out about the book’s exciting launch events here:
A Kind of Spark genuinely made me a better teacher and in general, a better human being in terms of understanding what it’s like to be neurodivergent. As well as being a thrilling fantasy adventure, Like a Charm had exactly the same effect. I cringed at the scenes where Ramya attends her ‘workshop’ Special Needs intervention sessions, which are insensitvely held at lunchtime.
“Support me?” …”I just want them to stop making me feel like an insect under a magnifying glass. Let me use a computer! Stop singling me out in PE! Let me process things in my own time! That’s all I need but oh no. It’s workshops and sheets and meetings and constant frowning and making sure I know I’m different at every opportunity.”
Bravo Elle McNicoll, you’ve done it again!
I am really looking forward to finding out what’s next for Ramya, Marley and her Aunts. The Magic returns in Spring 2023…
Like A Charm is published by Knights Of and is out on the 3rd February.
With thanks to Knights Of and Annabelle Wright at ed Public Relations for giving me the opportunity to read this much anticipated book in advance of publication.