The Circle of Power

The Sprite Sisters - The Circle of Power

The Circle of Power was written by Sheridan Winn and first published in 2008. It is the first book in The Sprite Sisters series which focuses on four girls aged nine to thirteen who discover that they have elemental powers. The novel is followed by seven sequels – The Magic Unfolds (2008), The Secret of the Towers (2009), The Ghost in the Tower (2009), New Magic (2010), The Boy with the Hawk-like Eyes (2012), Magic at Drysdale’s School (2013) and The Mystery of the Locked Room (2014).

On Ariel Sprite’s ninth birthday, her sisters reveal to her the family secret. Magic runs in their blood and now that she has come of age, she will be able to use it. All of her sisters have already developed their powers – Flame can call upon fire, Marina can use water and Ash can summon the power of the earth. Now that Ariel can control the wind, their magic circle is finally complete.

Ariel is desperate to show off her new powers to her friends and family and is disappointed to learn that her new abilities come with strict rules. Her magic must only be used for good. If she reveals her abilities to non-magical people, she could find that she is shunned for being different. To make matters worse, if her powers are ever used selfishly, or to harm another person, she could find that she loses them forever.

Ariel’s self-control is put to the test when an old rival of her Grandmother comes to town. This evil witch is determined to have her revenge on their Grandmother for something that happened when they were young and knows that the easiest way to hurt her is to cause harm to her Granddaughters. The Sprite Sisters must work together to protect each other in order to outwit a witch who has had decades to perfect her magic.

Before I begin my review, I’d like to talk a little about how I came to discover this book. From now until 5th September, dragons have invaded my home (Norwich, UK). Eighty-three large dragon statues (and one eagle for some reason) and a whole bunch of miniature ones have been hidden across the City, each decorated by a local artist. The event – called Go Go Dragons 2015 – is to raise money for Break, a charity which supports vulnerable children across East Anglia. If you are able, I really would recommend coming to see them. The statues are absolutely stunning, as you can see my pictures below.

So, how does that tie in with today’s review? Well, it’s all because of this fellow:

Snap Sprite 1

This is Snap Sprite, a dragon whose design is inspired by the work of Sheridan Winn. I confess that I’d never heard of The Sprite Sisters series before I saw this dragon but as chance would have it, I then came across an ARC copy of her first novel in a charity shop and thought it would be nice to review it to tie in with Go Go Dragons. So, here we are.

The Circle of Power is a short and fast-paced middle grade novel, suitable for children between nine and thirteen years old. The novel is well written and certainly keeps its target audience in mind, keeping language and characterisation simple while still building an interesting world. I really did like the magic system in this story as I felt it carried a good moral for children – being kind to others has its benefits while bad things happen to those who use their abilities selfishly.

Most of this first novel was spent allowing the reader to get a feel for the different characters and their varying abilities as they had to use magic to solve a variety of household problems, ranging from finding lost gerbils to removing slugs from the garden, all while hiding their powers from their parents. I felt that the author handled the magic in the story very well, making it clear what each sister could do and how their magic complemented each other. For example, Flame’s power could wither plants while Marina’s water magic could restore them once again. These little adventures allowed for Winn to show how the Sprite Sisters worked together before they were pitched against a more powerful foe.

The written style was light and easy to read, with a nice amount of humour. My only small gripe with it was that Winn spent a lot of time repeating information, sometimes multiple times in a single chapter. The physical attributes of the children are stated again and again while the novel reminds us that their father is an architect and that he can’t really afford the upkeep of Sprite Towers at least four times. I know the novel is aimed at younger readers and so I feel like I should cut it a little slack but it still feels very clumsy (especially if you read the novel over one sitting as I did). The dialogue early in the story can also be very exposition heavy with lots of talk about what magic the sisters can use without really showing any.

The story can also only be described as being incredibly English. Personally, I loved this. It had a really timeless feel to it, reminding me a lot of classic English children’s books like The Worst Witch and The Famous Five. As an English person, this made me feel incredibly nostalgic but some of the references to private schooling, rounders tournaments and the general English country feel of the story may be lost a little for an American child reader.

The characters in the story were very strong with each of the sisters showing very different personalities which came across in the way that they spoke. Their personalities complimented the magic that they used with Flame as the fiery sister, Marina being bubbly, Ash portrayed as really down to earth and Ariel as the mischievous one. The novel had a strong emphasis on the importance of being family, showing clearly how much the Sprite Sisters cared for each other and could draw strength from the support of both each other and their parents and Grandmother.

This formed a nice contrast with the villains of the story. Verena (Flame’s stuck-up rival) started out the novel as being a spoiled brat but became increasingly sympathetic as the story progressed. It was clear that, for all the expensive trinkets and family holidays, all she really wanted was a family who cared for her rather than a greedy father and absent mother. Her Grandmother was a stage worse again.

Glenda was a strong and rather threatening baddie for a middle grade novel. Not only was she the kind of Roald Dahl villainess who would willingly inflict pain on children but her reasoning for doing so was actually pretty sound. What better way to destroy her long term enemy than to attack her emotionally? By causing her Grandchildren to suffer, Glenda caused more pain to the Sprite Grandma than any physical attack could have managed. I was left really wanting to read on to discover just was Glenda had in store for them next.

Well, as the novel was only short I don’t have an awful lot more to say. With some clumsy writing aside, The Circle of Power was actually a fairly strong start to the series and offered decent characters and some lovely themes about the importance of kindness and family. I’m glad that I discovered this series and look forward to visiting it again in a future review.

The Circle of Power can be purchased as an eBook on Amazon.co.uk

To learn more about Go Go Dragons 2015, please visit their site – http://gogodragons.co.uk/

Gloria the Garden Dragon Ashman GogoMosaic Morgan Ascalon George the Dragon Patch Scorcher Cyril

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  1. Trackback: The Sobeks – Part 3 | Arkham Reviews

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© Kim Dyer and Arkham Reviews, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kim Dyer and Arkham Reviews with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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