Willow Moss is nobody special. True, she was born into a magical family and has special abilities, but the ability to find missing socks and lost keys could hardly be considered extraordinary. As the least powerful member of her family, Willow is often overlooked, especially by her mother and sisters. She is given the responsibility of caring for old Grandmother Flossy who, despite being kind and supportive, isn’t entirely in her right mind due to a terrible potions accident. It isn’t until the great witch, Moreg Vaine, seeks out Willow, offers her a cup of tea and asks for her help that Willow begins to realise that her magical abilities might be worth something.

Moreg Vaine is in need of a finder and Willow Moss’s special talents are exactly what Starfell needs to uncover the secret of the lost spells and a missing day. For the whole of Starfell to lose a day is quite remarkable. So many mundane moments make up an ordinary day, but Willow’s insight allows her to see the value and significance of even the most ordinary of days and their extraordinary significance. She must get that day back so that it doesn’t simply vanish from memory. However, Willow must overcome her own deep insecurities before she is able to see her magic’s value and worth and its significance to this quest; she needs to understand that great adventures don’t need big magic- maybe you’ve just got to be willing the try.

The world of Starfell is a place that is dramatically changing. Where magic was once accepted and embraced, it is now regulated and contained. The feared ‘Brothers of Wol’ are slowly starting to exert control over the magical folk and as an unexpected result, magic appears to be dying. Moreg’s last hope is Willow and her unique power and a journey where they hope that, together, they will uncover what is lost. But when Moreg is captured, all hope appears lost, Willow must find the strength to carry on alone. Thank goodness she has brought along her grumpy monster-under-the-bed, Oswin, for company.

No magical adventure should be undertaken alone and Willow makes some remarkable friends that come to her aid in her darkest moments: Nolan Sometimes, the forgotten teller, who can see into an individual’s past; Feathering the dragon, searching for his own missing family; Calamity the troll, who appears out of place amongst her own kind and Essential Jones, a fellow young witch with a knack of picking locks that comes in very handy. Willow soon comes to realise that even in the darkest, most hopeless of times there is always a choice, and she is grateful for the helpful and supportive choices of her quest companions in helping her to carry out Moreg’s wishes.

Starfell is a magical story that teaches the valuable lesson that ’it’s not about what you’ve got; it’s about what you do with the little bit of what you have that matters most.’ Wonderful characters, a classic magical quest story line and a self doubting heroine make this a book to really fall in love with. It would be perfect to read aloud to a class with a good attention span that enjoy fantasy settings. Willow’s bravery amidst challenges and her thoughtful nature will leave readers feeling uplifted and encouraged to face problems of their own.

Dominique Valente’s text contains some really fantastic inspirational quotes. This would prove to be really wonderful topic for a class PHSE discussion; a book hunt (for other characters or settings they may apply to) or the openers for short stories…

‘I think you’ll find that even in the darkest, most hopeless of times there is always a choice when you look hard enough’.

‘Incredibly special and mundane moments go into the recipe of one ordinary day.’

‘Magic is like life - it’s what you do with it that counts.’

‘Maybe you don’t need big magic to save the world? Maybe you’ve just got to be willing to try?’

Starfell Dominique Valente

Harper Collins ISBN: 978-0008308391