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Book Review: Hag Storm by Victoria Williamson

My dear bookish friends,

If you can’t quite let go of the Halloween mood yet then I have the perfect book for you: Hag Storm by Victoria Williamson tells the story of what happens when 12 year old Rab finds a hag stone and looks through its perfectly round hole. A historical adventure with a supernatural twist that is impossible to put down! Read on for the blurb and my thoughts!

The Blurb

It was a small round stone that fitted perfectly into the palm of his hand, its edges smooth to the touch as polished marble. Rab stared at it in surprise. In the centre of the stone was a hole so perfectly round it looked almost like an eye gazing back at him… he held it up and put his eye to the hole, looking through the centre of the stone. The sky seemed to grow darker all of a sudden. Rab shuddered…

THE WITCHES ARE GATHERING

12-year-old Rab spends all of his time doing backbreaking work on his family’s farm instead of attending school, but when he ­finds a hag stone in one of the ­fields, everything changes. Looking through its circular hole, he sees witches gathering in a coming storm, and they’ve set their sights on his family. Can Rab save his sisters from the clutches of the witches’ coven before their Halloween ceremony in the old church?

Filled with mystery and magic, Hag Storm by Victoria Williamson is a spooky, historical adventure with a supernatural twist.

What will you see when you look through the Hag Stone?

My Review

Hag Storm is the absolute perfect book for this time of year! I loved it so much. There are witches and there is magic, there is looming danger and great adventure, and, at its heart, is 12-year old Rab, who spends all of his time working on his family’s farm instead of attending school. Until, one day, he finds a hag stone – a stone with a perfectly round hole in the middle. Just like an eye, he thinks, and peaks through the hole. What happens then will turn his life topsy turvy…

Rab sees witches gathering, and those witches have now set sight on Rab and his family… I didn’t know about hag stones before but looked them up while reading this book – and I absolutely loved how the author has used the superstitions and myths surrounding them. As they are said to ward off dark entities such as ghosts and witches (because all the evil things are too big to pass through – so they get stuck in the hole!), it was the perfect item to introduce a magical element to the story.

I loved the main character, Rab. All too often, I’m reading middle grade stories with female main character, so it was refreshing to see a boy in the spotlight here! I loved his personality. He is so responsible and very mature for his age, and the way he looks after his siblings was just beautiful to see. However, Rab isn’t completely flawless either, which made him such a believable and complex character as well! It is characters like him who make me turn the pages faster, and I was rooting for him all the way through the book.

The witches in the story are quite scary, but not too graphically described, so I doubt they might cause sleepless nights for younger readers. They do, however, made a shiver run down my spine – so they offer the perfect imagery for the touch of spookyness that is needed for such a book.

On top of the mythological element, the magic and the well-rounded main character, another thing I loved about Hag Storm is that it is based on the life of the Scottish poet Robert Burns, who lived in the 18th century, and one of his most famous poems, Tam o’Shanter. If you’re familiar with the poem, you will see many overlapping elements, but if you don’t know it then don’t worry – you will still enjoy Hag Storm just as much!

Like the use of a mixture of English and the Scottish language in the poem, I absolutely loved reading this story with its generous sprinkling of the Scottish dialect – it made the story stand out and come to life even more! The glossary at the end will help you if you are at a loss for a word here and there, but it also adds a nice additional touch once you have turned the last page.

This beautifully written atmospheric historical tale, weaved with mythological and magical elements, a generous amount of Halloweeny witchiness, an underlying theme of defense and revenge, as well as brotherly and sisterly love, will delight readers of all ages.

Definitely a 5 star read for me, and I can’t wait to read more books by the author!

Thank you all so much for reading!

xoxo

Noly

P.S. Big thank you to Anne from Cranachan Publishing, and of course the author for my ecopy of the book which I received in exchane for my honest review.

Author Bio

A lifelong storyteller and daydreamer, Victoria Williamson is a children’s author and teacher. Her previous novels, ­ The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle (2018, Floris Books), and ­ The Boy with the Butterfly Mind (2019, Floris Books) were based on her experiences of teaching children with diverse backgrounds and have been shortlisted for a number of awards. Victoria divides her time between writing, visiting schools and speaking at festivals to encourage children of all ages to write their own stories and exercise their imaginations.

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