Being different can be dangerous. Wilde is afraid strange things are happening around her. Are the birds following her? Is she flying in her sleep? Moving to live with her aunt seems to make it all worse. Wilde is desperate to fit in at her new school, but things keep getting stranger.
In a fierce heatwave, in rehearsals for a school play telling the old, local legend of a witch called Winter, ‘The Witch’ starts leaving pupils frightening letters cursing them. Can Wilde find out what’s happening before everyone blames her? Or will she always be the outcast?
Wilde is a magical story about an unusual girl in a 21st century school. Wilde Jenkins just wants to fit in, despite the name her mother had given her. She has left the boarding school where she was so unhappy and now staying with her aunt, Mae, at Witch Point where her parents grew up, she hopes life will be better in Year 6 at the local school in the hot summer term before they move up to Secondary school. But this is no ordinary village. The locals believe it was cursed many years earlier by a witch called Winter and unwisely, Gwyneth, an “outstanding actress,” currently resting, has decided to make the class act out the legend of Winter.
At first, making friends with a delightful girl called Dorcas, makes up for the class bully, Jemima, but when members of the class receive poisonous notes from “the Witch” suspicion falls upon the new girl. It doesn’t help that birds seem to follow Wilde and swoop down above her head. At first Dorcas remains loyal and, naughty boy, Lewis accepts her without question, but when Wilde finds herself in strange locations in the middle of the night, she begins to wonder about the stories she had heard of her mother.
The expressive language of the author enhanced my enjoyment and helped me to identify with Wilde’s predicament,
“It’s there, inside a cotton cover-all. The costume I’ve seen photos of my mother in. Hermia’s dress. It’s so beautiful. A shimmering moss-green with leaves around the neckline and a brocade skirt. Tiny gold threads run through the material and it has silver spiderwebs embroidered all over it. I’ve heard so many stories about it. It doesn’t feel real to hold it and know she once wore it. I feel a tear roll down my nose and plop on to the bodice. Then another. I have to sit back from the material or I’ll spoil it.“
The theme of the story is friendship and acceptance of differences. Despite their friction the class follow the Year 6 code of keeping secrets within their group. Mae’s household contains a menagerie including the independent cat, Mrs Danvers, and Wilde is allowed the independence of traditional fictional heroines. A great book for middle grade and me!
Wilde on Amazon UK
My review of Seaglass by Eloise Williams