Book Review: LIKE A CHARM by Elle McNicoll (Middle Grade Monday)

Title in gold on blue, purple and orange clouds
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Age Range: MG
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: yes - first book

Synopsis:

Book cover for LIKE A CHARM: title in gold on blue and orange graphic of girl in beret with messy jumper

Edinburgh is a city filled with magical creatures. No one can see them… until Ramya Knox.

As she is pulled into her family’s world of secrets and spells, Ramya sets out to discover the truth behind the Hidden Folk with only three words of warning from her grandfather: Beware the Sirens.

Plunged into an adventure that will change everything, Ramya is about to learn that there is more to her powers than she ever imagined.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

LIKE A CHARM is another wonderful book from Elle McNicoll that celebrates neurodiversity. Ramya has dyspraxia, and neither her school nor parents are truly supportive, though they all claim to be. But rather than working with her, asking what she wants, they’re all determined to make her “normal”, forcing her into extra lessons to work on her handwriting and trying to cover up her difficulties.

And then Ramya discovers a world of magic hidden beneath a Glamour, a Glamour she can see through. With the help of her cousin, she starts to explore and discovers that Sirens are influencing people all around.

I love love loved seeing a neurodiverse heroine in fantasy. The book doesn’t use magic to erase all her difficulties with the world and also lets her shine as a person, rather than just a walking example of dyspraxia (unlike a lot of media.) She’s not just struggling, she’s investigating a magical world, trying to interact with a difficult family, and just being a pre-teen.

All the magic hidden in Edinburgh? Wonderful, with a nice take on Scottish mythological creatures that felt really new. I think it was the vibes, it felt fun and light, and serious all at once. Most of the time when I see mythological creatures, particularly Scottish, in fantasy, there’s this dark, moody vibe, but here it felt like a normal world trying to coexist – and I really liked that difference.

That’s not to say it’s all fun and games. There’s a serious message about fear, division, and the role media plays in that. The Sirens are the ones behind it, but the book doesn’t let them take all the blame. It’s a really nice way to start conversations about misinformation and people using lies to their own ends, but showing how, yeah, it’s the young people who make most of the difference.

This is Elle McNicoll’s first series, and it works so well – both as a satisfying standalone(ish) read, but also as an introduction to a much larger world. I look forward to the next book.


Read my reviews of other books by Elle McNicoll:

Standalones:

2 thoughts on “Book Review: LIKE A CHARM by Elle McNicoll (Middle Grade Monday)

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