These are some of my favourite books!
The Wee Free Men (and the sequel, A Hat Full of Sky) by Terry Pratchett
Cosy witchy vibes, for deep thinkers and those who love Anne of Green Gables but with added humour and elements of the absurd.
The synopsis: Smart girl who lives on a farm hits a swamp monster with a frying pan, and battles more mythical creatures on a quest to save her brother in a dream realm, helped by a horde of tiny blue Scottish men.
Though this series is more middle-grade than Pratchett’s other work, it by no means talks down to children, but trusts them to pay attention, unafraid to dive deep alongside the humour. I still remember reading this for the first time when I was nine, going over the wise phrases until I understood their meaning. Most sentences in the book could be framed as a quote on the wall, yet there is also humour on every page (the Nac Mac Feegles’ dialogue is written out in the Scottish dialect, and it never fails to make me giggle). When I read it for the third time recently, Tiffany’s determination and the poetic language inspired me anew.
Whispering to Witches by Anna Dale
A cosy middle-grade read that is probably my most re-read book (I don’t reread things often, and I think I’ve been through this one four times).
It’s set in 2010s England, and features a lovable coven of witches, magic ink and adorable cats! I love how easily the writing flows, with vivid description, and I particularly appreciate how well-depicted each of the characters are. It has a great twist that I forgot about the second time, and it was still a *gasp* moment!
It has some lovely passages set at a midnight market, others in the cosy sitting room at Dead Nettle Coven, and a few in a library. It’s very bookish and cosy, engaging and absorbing but in a calm way, without being too intense.
The Lockwood and Co. series by Jonathan Stroud
Another YA book, but it doesn’t feel kid-level. Think Percy Jackson in terms of tone and audience.
Synopsis: In a parallel London, teen ghost hunters investigate unsolved mysteries in a bid to save their independent business, which isn’t taken seriously by the larger agencies.
These are real page-turners. I, a slow reader, have got through one of them in two days – and I was trying to draw it out as slowly as possible, savouring every word. The characterisation and description is superb, the wit and humour placed in a way that means I chuckle at least every few pages, and the main 3 characters’ dynamic is my favourite. It’s the combination of moody but practical and thoughtful Lucy, chaotic but dashing and quick-witted Lockwood, and lazy but resourceful and sarcastic George. It’s a brilliant trio and I love just hanging out with them when I read these books, as they eat cookies and drink tea in the cosy lounge of 35 Portland Row, while spooky occurrences wait to be uncovered outside the black-painted door.