This is a really wonderful novel. It’s kind of weird mix of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend, Matilda by Roald Dahl, and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. This weird combination is never all of one plus, but a blending of elements of each. Morwenna is 14 and has either just survived a horrendous car crash that killed her mother and sister, or conversely, she and her sister worked together using their shared magic to stop their mother from taking over the world of men via the magic of fairies. It’s hard to tell at first. But in the meantime, as we wrap our heads around this (as in, which possibility do we really believe) she’s got to reunite with her father long enough to borrow as many of his SF and fantasy novels as possible and get shipped off to English public school.
So the novel itself is her diary entries of this year in school, her traumatic recollections of the events preceding the novel, a list of the tons of books she’s reading and has read, a book club!, a boy!, and the ends and outs of being a social outcast — did I mention her leg is now disabled giving her a further outsider status — and navigating what it means to be a girl in England in 1979, a girl in general, and a girl who can talk to fairies (or whatever these magical creatures are) and can maybe do magic? Are her new friends genuine? Or did they fall for a spell she created after reading Vonnegut?