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Orla and the Magpie's Kiss - C.J. Haslam

New-found witch and eco-warrior Orla is up against some seriously dark magic in this creepy and funny adventure, the second in the series.

Orla, her brothers and Dave the dog are on holiday in Norfolk, visiting their eccentric Uncle Valentine. Orla may have recently learned she's a witch, but she's not looking for trouble. Nope. Definitely not. Unfortunately, her timing is terrible. She quickly discovers the beautiful Anna's Wood, due to be bulldozed any minute for shale gas. The locals are all convinced that GasFrac's plan is a great one. Make way for a new shopping centre and car park! But why doesn't anyone care about the destruction of the wood? Where are the protests? Orla soon begins to suspect that this isn't just indifference ... there's dark magic involved here. With the help of a magpie, she finds out who is behind GasFrac. And what he wants is worse than she could possibly have imagined.

(Blurb taken from Walker Books website)

Again, I'm thrilled to have been asked to be a part of a blog tour for another wonderful book - this time the brilliant 'Orla and the Magpie's Kiss' by Chris Haslam from Walker Books. The sequel to 'Orla and the Serpent's Kiss', this book can quite happily be read as a stand-alone, but greater satisfaction in knowing the characters and the developments will be had if you've read the first book too!

Following the further adventures of new witch Orla as she visits her eccentric uncle (a holiday idea just guaranteed to set off any good children's book adventure!), we see Orla getting involved in a (very currently relevant!) struggle to stop the destruction of local woodland by fracking. My favourite dog sidekick, Dave T Dog, is back, and there is humour and adventure aplenty as Orla discovers more about herself (determination and bravery) and her magical powers through her battle to stop the evil plans for Anna's Wood.

The story is based on fantasy elements, but I loved the involvement of real local/natural/eco issues as part of the plot that readers will be able to recognise from their own experiences or recent news/events. The Norfolk countryside, nature and woodland themes will definitely appeal to readers, too.

Twists and turns and drama make this a thriller suitable for 9+ I would say - there are enough thrills to be exciting and engaging, but it's not too scary (Phew!).

A great read, I look forward to seeing what is next for lead character Orla as she continues her adventures and grows more into her newfound identity as a witch.

Find out more about the book from publisher, Walker, here:

Author, C.J. Haslam, can be found on Twitter as @dromomaniac

Thanks to Ellen at Walker for the copies of the books to review and for having me on the blogtour.

Review by Rich Simpson (@richreadalot on Twitter and Instagram), April 2022. All opinions my own.

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