Twister's father is missing and she is determined to find him. Although she enjoys learning and has love and support from her Aunt Honey and her faithful dog, Point, her mother is depressed and local people view Twister and her family with suspicion. 

When Twister meets the mysterious MayMay in the middle of the woods, she finds that she has been chosen by the magical necklace, Wah, which offers the wearer magical powers. This opens up possibilities for Twister, but also leads her on a dangerous path...

A wonderfully unique character, Twister is brave and loyal. Named for the storm she was born in, she is full of restless energy and has an amazing voice. She keeps going in the face of cruel treatment, never giving up her belief her father will return.

Lots of action is packed into this adventure, making it a real page turner. There are darker themes at play- Clem, a bully who victimises Twister cruelly, is bullied in turn by his father, Hack, and there are some very scary moments throughout, but Juliette Forrest handles this very well, making compelling reading.

'Twister' is a beautifully written, magical, engaging story which will have you on the edge of your seat to the very end. 

Twister     Juliette Forrest

Scholastic   ISBN: 978-1407185118


You can read another review of 'Twister' here.

Hay Festival: Mysterious Magic


On Sunday, three fabulous writers of fabulous stories came together to talk about their stories and approaches to magic and how it is used in their worlds. It made for a fascinating discussion!

James Nicol, Sophie Anderson and Juliette Forrest have each drawn on their personal experiences and interests for their stories, resulting in wonderful worlds, engaging characters and exciting tales.


James explained how he grew up with stories containing the 'traditional type of witches', but that, coming from Norfolk, he was also surrounded by true stories of witches – of those persecuted at the witch trials often for nothing more than using natural remedies to help others. Finding the idea that witches can be helpful and not the 'enemy', he wanted to create a story in which the witch was the hero- where helping was her job and people would send for a witch to solve their problems. This was how he came up with Arianwyn, the wonderful witch in his first book, 'The Apprentice Witch' and now in his new one, 'A Witch Alone', both set in a fantasy kingdom where being a witch is a job.


'Twister' by Juliette Forrest is very different. Set in America, it follows the fortunes of Twister, a witch born in the woods in the middle of 'the worst storm in living memory' and so named because she wriggled around in her Pa's arms so much. Juliette spoke about a book she had read by a Native American shaman and how their belief that everything is linked to the land fascinated her. She loved the idea that her character was connected to nature and the natural word and wanted to develop this in her story. Through the power of a magic necklace, Twister is able to channel the elements, draw the souls of creatures and shapeshift into a wolf- powers she struggles to control and understand. Twister is a brave, vulnerable and loyal character, facing great dangers.

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For 'The House with Chicken Legs', Sophie Anderson drew greatly on the stories of her childhood. She told us how her grandmother would tell her lots of traditional Slavic stories, many about the witch, Baba Yaga, who varied from story to story, often portrayed as having iron teeth, rising in a pestle and mortar and having a house with chicken legs. In some stories, Baba Yaga was bad, in some good, and Sophie decided she wanted to use these stories to develop one of her own about this amazing character. The house is always on the move and Marinka, who lives in it with her Grandmother, the current Yaga of the family, is desperate to escape and live a 'normal life' instead of being destined to take over from her grandmother and spend her life with the dead, guiding their souls through the gate.

Three very different takes on magic, but each resulting in a fascinating and compelling story. It was a great session – such a pleasure to listen to people who connected so well and were really interested in each other's books. The event was full and everyone obviously enjoyed it very much.

'Twister' is on the long list for our 'Moving On' category this year and 'The House with Chicken Legs' is on our 'Quality Fiction' category long list. You can read a review of 'Twister' here and a review of 'The House with Chicken Legs' here. Their long list reviews will be posted soon.

The Apprentice Witch James Nicol

Chicken House ISBN: 978- 1910655153

A Witch Alone James Nicol

Chicken House ISBN:978-1910655979

Twister Juliette Forrest

Scholastic ISBN: 978-1407185118

The House with Chicken Legs Sophie Anderson

Usborne ISBN: 978-1474940665



Born in the 'worst storm in living memory', Twister lives up to her name; feisty and tenacious, she takes on whatever comes her way. With her father missing and her mother having sun into a deep depression, Twister would be all alone if it weren't for her Aunt Honey and Twister's beloved dog, Point.  School should somewhere for her to thrive as she loves learning, yet sneering girls and bullies make her life miserable. 

Pushed to the edge by accusations that her father was responsible for the death of two people in a fire, Twister bravely sets off on a mission to find him and bring him back home. Given a magical necklace that holds the souls of living things by a witch called Maymay, Twister finds she can use its power to transform herself- but at a cost. And someone else wants the necklace and the power it contains...

An original, powerful story which mixes magic and at times brutal reality, 'Twister' is a compelling read. Twister herself is an intriguing character, loyal and spirited. Her voice is beautifully captured, with her dry commentary on the actions of those around and her wonderful turn of phrase.  Other characters- both the good and the bad- are also cleverly drawn. The landscape, vividly described in Twister's unique style, highlights tiny details others might miss.

The story is gripping and fast moving- at times scary, at times sad, building to a satisfying conclusion. It is the perfect book for those looking for a read that offers something a bit different- great for moving on! 

Twister by Juliette Forrest, cover illustration by Alexis Snell

Scholastic    ISBN: 978-1407185118