Thursday, April 07, 2022

The Sisters of Luna Island

Hackney, Stacy. The Sisters of Luna Island
April 12th 2022 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Marigold Lafleur lives on Luna Island, where her family has practiced aromagic for generations. Recently, however, the use of flowers and scents to prepare magical charms has caused Marigold, along with her mother and sisters Lou and Birdie, to come under suspicion. A spell that Marigold created went badly wrong and caused an earthquake in her town, and everyone at school blames her. She blames herself, as well, since her father was badly injured right before he was supposed to go away for an extended work trip, and he is now living on the mainland with his sister so he can be near therapy. Marigold misses him, and worries about how people will treat her when the new school year starts. Luckily, her best friend, Sam, still talks to her, but she's worried about her mother. She was reluctant to practice aromagic for a while after the earthquake, but has recently been creating charms for people who ask for them. She tells Marigold that she informs all purchasers of the charms "vexes", which are things that could go wrong. Marigold suspects that something is really wrong, since there is a rotten stench hanging around the town, which is stronger around her house. Her mother denies that anything is wrong, but when Marigold does some digging, she finds that there was a curse on her family. She hopes to be able to remove it herself, but manages to make things worse. She makes Sam angry, causes trouble for the school play in which she has a starring role, and causes her sisters to have bigger and bigger problems. All of the things she does to remove the curse seem to fail. After her father visits, she starts to realize that some of the bad circumstances in her life are not the fault of the curse and would have happened anyway, but she knows there is still some danger from it. Will she be able to figure out a way to remove it before further harm comes to her family?
Strengths: Marigold's love of her family is very evident, and she wants the best for her sisters and her mother. Like many tweens, she feels like everything is her fault, and if she could just do the right thing, circumstances would improve for everyone. In Marigold's case, this involves a lot of delving into family history, and some forays into questionable magic, which is always exciting. Luna Island is an interesting setting, and the brief inclusion of some mean girls to whom Marigold stands up adds just the right amount of friend drama to a magical story. I enjoyed how each chapter started with the magical properties of scents or flowers, and had charming line illustrations. I'd love to see more page decorations in middle grade novels!
: My students seem to prefer magical realism that is a bit happier; the aromagic Marigold experiences has rarely made her own life better. I'd like to see more books where magic isn't endangered or seen as a bad thing. 
What I really think: This felt a bit life Harrison's A Pinch of Magic , Littlewood's Bliss Bakery books, or Nichol's The Apprentice Witch. It's clearly set in the US, but did have a bit of a British feel to it. A great choice for readers who like their magical realism on the bittersweet side. Hand to fans of Ingrid Law or Natalie Lloyd. 

Ms. Yingling

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