A rollicking introduction to a fantasy trilogy set in Scotland.
After a confrontation with a neighbor who disposes of his dog’s waste on the sidewalk, 11-year-old Molly Drummond finds herself victim of a curse that turns her into a hare when chased by dogs. What’s a girl to do? Enroll in a workshop for removing curses, of course. At Aggie Sharpe’s curse-lifting workshop, Molly meets other curse victims: Beth, a purple-haired dryad; blond Innes, a shape-shifting kelpie; Atacama, a sphinx; and a toad who vainly communicates with croaks no one understands. Each has his or her own reasons for wanting to be curse-free: Beth’s will eventually destroy all the trees in her forest; Innes’ kills water creatures when certain weather conditions are met; Atacama’s prevents him from being a “true” sphinx, for his riddle has been taken away; and the nonverbal toad’s is a mystery. Given very little instruction, Molly and her classmates realize that with a little teamwork and ingenuity, they can help break one another’s curses. From the first word, readers are dropped straight into the lively action, with nary a breather until the final page turn. A minor character is described as “dark-skinned”; the principals all appear to be white. Colloquialisms such as “howk the tatties” (dig potatoes), “a bit of a cheek” (impertinence), and “daft” (silly) and British-English spellings add realism (such as it is) and anchor the story to its Scottish countryside setting.
A real treat. (Fantasy. 8-12)