Friday, July 02, 2021

41. The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart

This was a nice little find that did not disappoint. I would say at this point I am a Mary Stewart fan with some minor misgivings.  I have read all of her Arthurian works and 8 of her thrillers.  I had a feeling that she would bring her skill to a young adult tale with excellent results.  My only disappointment is trying to get my daughter to be interested in these kinds of books.  My agenda is to expose her to the classic young adult fantasy books from the mid to late 20th century before her mind gets polluted by Harry Potter.  She showed zero interest so far in this book and I must be prepared that she never will but I am going to keep i lurking around on the off-chance that something inspires or forces her (like boredom) to open it up and discover the magic within.

It starts off with the pretty classic situation of the younger child being left alone at her boring great aunt's house, so bored she wishes she could be sick so she could go to the friends' house she where was supposed to be staying (but couldn't because those kids got sick).  Of course, it is a beautiful old lodging house with a cool old gardener, gardens and a mysterious forest nearby. She meets a small black cat who leads her out into the forest where she discovers a very special looking flower.  Things start gradually at first, which some might find a bit slow but I just loved, particularly when you get a nice mix of local folklore (the gardener expressing surprise at her finding such a rare flower which used to be used for healing) setting the stage for the real magic to come.

I won't go into the details because the fun is in going on the journey with Mary.  A lot happens and it gets pretty wild and fast-paced.  This is the thing about these older YA books.  Mary Stewart did not need 16 books and a theme park to deliver satisfying escapism.  It's all here in less than 200 pages.  It's also not soft as the bad witches are up to some pretty nasty stuff.  I also liked the theme of animal alliance.  Just a really great little book.  It was also made into a Studio Ghibli movie called Mary and the Witch's Flower which we will have to check out.



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