Nora Ratcliff found a baby in a flower pot. She and her husband had never been able to have children and he had died several years before. But when she held that baby she knew that they would be family. She named the little girl Mabel after her mother. When Mabel was little she showed magical talent so Nora moves the family close to the Ruthersford Academy for witches. Mabel excels at witchcraft, but she is constantly constrained by the rules of “ladylike” witches. Like you must ride your broom sidesaddle with a cat for balance, you mustn’t experiment, and you must always wear a dress and look elegant. Mabel has many friends at school, but not Winifred, who is jealous of Mabel’s talent. Winifred tells Mabel that she was adopted. Mabel is very upset, because she didn’t know, but realizes that families are people who love and care for each other. Winifred also steals Mabel’s invention and locks her up in an attic. To save the day, Mabel must break every “lady-like” rule.
Mabel is a plucky, kind, and imaginative character. Despite obstacles, she is willing to work hard and overcome them. Her reaction to finding out she was adopted feels genuine, but also her realizing what her life could have been like if she hadn’t found a home and a family with Nora Ratcliff. The story is set in a magical Victorian England world and Mabel struggles with many of the same restraints that non-magical ladies did at that time. The plot moves quickly to a satisfying conclusion.Natasha Lowe is also the author of two other witchy books: The Power of Poppy Pendle and The Courage of Cat Campbell.
EL-ADVISABLE. Samantha Hastings, MA, MLS.