Nora was thrilled to find Mabel in a flowerpot on her doorstep, even if the baby’s unconventional arrival displeased their neighbors in 1881 Yorkshire.
When Mabel’s proven to have strong magical abilities, Nora sends her to Ruthersfield, a highly regarded academy for witches in Potts Bottom. Moving the whole household to Potts Bottom allows Nora to keep Mabel’s adoption secret—even from Mabel: only kind Daisy and sour Nanny Grimshaw know. At Ruthersfield, Mabel makes friends and enjoys learning magic but chafes at the strict limits and senseless rules the academy places on its use by young ladies. Why must witches ride broomsticks sidesaddle when riding astride would be easier and safer? Learning to dance the “waft and glide,” mastering sparkling conversation spells for dinner parties, and enhancing her complexion with unicorn-milk soap don’t interest Mabel. Curious and daring, she experiments, creating new spells (with surprising results). Witchcraft runs in families, so Mabel’s family tree must include witches, but Nora won’t discuss them. Then a jealous classmate learns the truth about her flowerpot origins and reveals it to the entire school, devastating Mabel. She’ll need courage and love to get through this—magic can’t solve everything. Adoption is treated with sensitivity and in an age-appropriate way.
Wild fantasy, sly satire, and sharply observed family dynamics are the hallmarks of this tasty, effervescent series (along with mouthwatering recipes); this volume’s the most delectable yet. (Fantasy. 8-12)