Hello Humans! Yes I know it’s only October but we’ve got the heating on at home and I’m living exclusively in enormous woolly jumpers and blankets so it feels like the time to start talking about winter reads. I had the opportunity to read Amy Wilson’s middle-grade novel Snowglobe and to share my thoughts with you, and this seemed like a great time.
When daydreamer Clementine discovers a mysterious house standing in the middle of town that was never there before, she is pulled towards it by the powerful sense of a mother she never knew. The place is full of snowglobes, swirling with stars and snow and each containing a trapped magician, watched over by Gan, the bitter keeper of the house. One of these is Dylan, a boy who teases her in the real world but who is now desperate for her help.
So Clem ventures into the snowglobes, rescuing Dylan and discovering her own powerful connection to the magic of these thousand worlds. Vowing to release the magicians from the control of their enchantments, Clem unknowingly unleashes a struggle for power that will not only put her family, but the future of magic itself in danger.
I think this was one of the books where the concept was much stronger than the execution. I loved the idea of the magicians trapped in the snowglobes, and the young characters having to journey through them. I loved the creativity of that concept and I thought that this had the recipe for something really interesting.
What I think let this story down was that there were a lot of elements at play, quite a few balls in the air, if you will. There’s the lost mother narrative, the mythological-meets-modern idea, the bully befriending the bullied, there’s the snowglobes – there’s a lot. I actually felt like this book could have benefitted from being a little longer, from having the time to explore those themes in a bit more detail and to really get to grips with how they all intersect. As it was I was very confused for a good portion of this book – which is not something I tend to expect from a middle-grade novel.
That being said, the prose is lovely, the characters are interesting, though I myself didn’t relate to them hugely, I think other children might. There are moments that truly capture the imagination, the idea of thousands of unique worlds contained within the snowglobes certainly caught my mind’s eye. I can envision school children being asked to design their own snowglobe world as either an artistic or creative writing exercise, which I would have loved as a child.
With a firmer hand on the rudder, or perhaps just with a more limited scope, I think this could have been an exceptional middle-grade story. As it is, I think there was just a little too much going on for any one element to shine through. I’m also a little bit biased against stories in which bullies and bystanders get redemption, but that’s personal experience and preference shining through. It does have the trope of a young girl discovering she has magic, and it also has a dog – so it had some of my favourite things too!
I think this will make a good Christmas gift or wintry read for middle-grade readers (by which I mean, readers who read middle-grade) and who like a complex plot and some slightly creepy elements.
My rating: 3/5 stars
I received a free digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Snowglobe releases on the 18th of October.
What say you? What are some of your favourite wintry reads? Let me know in the comments below!