In the not-too-distant future, Devon and Cornwall have been barricaded off from the rest of Britain to form the Greenworld, a society run on ecological principles and governed by witches. Beyond the border lies the Redworld, where wars over the world’s few remaining resources rage. But it’s not all homespun clothes and dirty vegetables in the Greenworld either. The witches can only use their magic to protect small pockets of territory from the threat of the gangs that roam the land in between.
Although sixteen-year-old Danny is the son of a witch, he has no idea he has magical abilities himself until he has to leave the safety of his protected village. But after a run-in with gang leader Roach, who is mysteriously intent on capturing Danny, and exposure to magic far more powerful than his mother’s, Danny embraces his newly-revealed power and starts to train as a witch. Just to make his life more complicated, he falls for a beautiful witch who is already involved with someone else. When Roach and his gang threaten the whole community, Danny has to use all his powers to save the Greenworld from destruction.
I have read a lot of books for children and young adults featuring witches. They vary from the absolutely fantastic to the almost real, but for the most part, the laws that govern witchcraft in these books bear only the slightest nod towards any witchcraft that may have and may still exist in the world. The fascinating part of Crow Moon for me was the way Anna McKerrow used the real substance of the myths and the modern practice of witchcraft. We have the intricacies of the tarot – used to brilliant effect in one dramatic scene – and the Wiccan deities, Brighid, the Morrigan, Lugh, plus the idea of herbal remedies and the power of the mind. I don’t know how much is real and how much fictional, but it feels authentic and it made me want to delve more into these mysteries.
I am a total sucker for fiction which features magic in the real-world – ‘low’ fantasy as it is sometimes known. It’s the stuff of so many of my absolutely favourite children’s books, and is sometimes overlooked in YA fiction, which tends more towards contemporary realism or ‘high’ fantasy (generally defined as fantasy set in other worlds). Anna McKerrow’s world isn’t quite this – we’re clearly in a not all that distant future, but it’s near enough to have the quality of those low fantasy books I loved. She’s made a fabulous job of creating thrillingly believable real-world magic here along with a page-turning plot.
More to read!
The sequel to Crow Moon, Red Witch is out now. I’ll review it here, when I can wrench it out of my daughters’ hands long enough to read it!
If you are interested in other books about witchcraft, Carnegie Medal-winner The Changeover by Margaret Mahy is a haunting thriller about a teenage girl who must become a witch to save her enchanted brother.
Alan Garner is the master of weaving ancient myths into contemporary fantasies. In his novel The Owl Service, three teenagers awaken a terrifying and tragic Welsh legend and find themselves unable to to stop re-enacting it.
Claire Watts writes and edits fiction and non-fiction for children and young adults. Her latest YA novel is How Do You Say GOOSEBERRY in French? You can read the first chapter here.
There’s a giveaway for Claire’s book running until June 1st 2016 over on Goodreads. Click here to enter.
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