The Girl Who Dreamed in Magic book cover for review
Book Reviews

The Girl Who Dreamed in Magic | Book Review

By Maria Kuzniar, with illustrations by Nakul P. (published by Puffin Books, 2024)

‘The girl will dream magic.’ Her lined face drooped. ‘And she holds the fate of the North in her hands.’

The Girl Who Dreamed in Magic book cover for review

And so home-loving Saga’s destiny is set in The Girl Who Dreamed in Magic by Maria Kuzniar and illustrated, together with a useful map, by Nakul P.

It’s a destiny she doesn’t want though, and as for magic, she hates and fears it. But when her village loses its protection and the mountain trolls sweep in, it looks like she may not have a choice. The Fifth Winter contest would provide her with the means to protect them, but it would mean…learning magic.

Saga will have to face her fears and worse in this breath-taking adventure lavishly sprinkled with mythical creatures, sorcerers, friendship, and treachery.

We would like to thank Tales on Moon Lane for the proof copy of this book, due to be published March 2024.

In this epic Nordic fantasy set in the icy North, we journey with Saga and Bjørn, her pet bear and friend, as she ventures into the unknown to save all she loves. Along the way she meets Ruvsa and Casper, and the three proud and courageous children face forces that endanger their world.

As they take part in the dangerous and demanding contest, it becomes harder to know who to trust, and their support and friendship for each other is put to the test.

Each of the children has their own reason for being there; for Rusva, being the youngest of her family and the only girl means she feels the need to prove herself, while Caspar is having trouble accepting himself. Each of them is brave and determined in their own way, even as they struggle with their problems.

Runes are the most common way of performing magic, but the children all have their own specialities, which makes them each feel unique and important to the story. I won’t spoil Caspar’s ability, but Rusva’s is animal communication, which gives us some fun moments between her and Bjørn – who definitely feels more like a friend than a pet!

The writing is beautiful, and Kuzniar’s descriptions are incredibly atmospheric; you really visualise the scenery, and feel the cold and the worries as if you were there. Seeing all the people who come together for the contest gives you a fascinating look at the different tribes of the world.

With relatively short chapters, the story keeps a fast pace and the action ramps up as we enter the contest, leaving you on the edge of your seat as more contestants get knocked out after each round. Despite discovering how powerful Saga truly is, there’s more going on behind the scenes that gives you no guarantee of exactly which way things will go next.

The story deals with themes of friendship, facing your fears, treachery, and accepting yourself with heart and humour. Despite the setting, our heroes’ struggles will feel familiar to many children (though perhaps not with the magical element!) making this is an excellent adventure book for primary readers.

Note: This is a proof copy, so there may be slight changes in the published version.

Meet Saga and Bjørn in the frozen North in The Girl Who Dreamed in Magic at the link below.
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Looking for more magical tales? If so, you can see our previous reviews here.