The Snow Spider
by Jenny Nimmo
This first book in The Magician Trilogy introduces Gwyn Griffiths, an ordinary Welsh farm-boy who is about to begin an extraordinary adventure. On his ninth birthday his grandmother, Nain, gives him five strange gifts which, she claims, have been handed down through generations of her family, going back to the legendary Welsh magician Gwydion. Nain hopes that her own Gwydion Gwyn will turn out to be a magician too. She is not disappointed.
Gwyns five gifts include a stick of seaweed, a silver locket, a wooden flute, a badly damaged toy horse, and a yellow scarf. Gwyn is most surprised by the scarf, which was last seen around the neck of his sister Bethan, who walked out into a rainy night four years before and was never seen again. But it is the horse he really needs to look out for, because in it is trapped an evil spirit that must never be set free.
Gwyn gives the other four gifts to the wind, as Nain tells him to do. What he gets in return are a silver spider that shows him scenes from another world in her mirrorlike web; a silver flute that enables him to hear sounds from that world as well; an encounter with an icy-cold spaceship; and a visit with a girl who is remarkably like his missing sister, only paler, colder, and not a day older than Bethan was when she disappeared.
Much of this book is the moving story about how this unearthly girls visit heals a deep wound in Gwyns family. But another major part is about the toll magic takes on Gwyns social life, and the danger that results when he makes his first, inevitable, magical mistakes.
All by itself this is a very fine story, though it imbibes enough of the traditional lore of Welsh magic to merit a mild occult content warning. But just you wait: the trilogy gets better and better!
Recommended Age: 11+
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