A Girl Called Owl - Amy Wilson


Macmillan Children's Books
Publication date: 26.01.2017
ISBN: 9781509832460
Number of pages: 336


“You do not like to be like this?” he asks, gesturing at my frost-covered skin. I look at it. It is kind of beautiful: a tracery of delicate veins that shimmer in the pale light of the moon, gathering intricately over my knuckles and down my fingers. Beautiful, but not human. Not normal at all.
 A Girl Called Owl Amy Wilson. P118.

Frozen just got interesting. The current middle grade audience were small when Frozen was released. Identity crisis brought out in a world of ice is nothing new to them. What Frozen lacked – so, so much, but a sense of winter’s place in the cycle of nature to begin with – A Girl Called Owl makes up for. Frost magic, it seems, is growing up with the audience who fell in love with it.

Why would your mother call you Owl? Could there be more to her stories of nature’s guardians than hippy-dippy nonsense? Who is the new boy who stares at you with his intense brown eyes? Not only does Owl doodle owls on every spare piece of paper. Since she turned thirteen, she has started to cover surfaces with frost. Her friend Mallory may be the one whose head is screwed on, but Mallory has problems of her own. It seems Owl will have to find out the truth about her absent father if she is to understand herself.

Which makes things interesting. Owl’s father is Jack Frost, and he is caught in the eternal battle of the seasons…

If this is a novel which explores identity through magical ice-sculpting powers, it also explores the reasons we follow one another out into the unknown. The people who surround Owl in her daily life – her mother, her best friend Mallory and the new boy Auberic – are as important to the narrative as the guardians of nature. In terms of analysis, I find Mallory’s role the most interesting. It seems no coincidence that, like Owl and Auberic, Mallory’s name is not drawn from the ‘Top 100 names for Girls’. Mallory’s world is shifting in a way many children experience. She too is redefining her identity.

Owl's mother is also interesting. I liked the fact she remained in the background while Owl searched for her father. Owl must embrace her mother's stories in order to learn more about her father - in this sense she must form her identity through a better understanding of both her parents. 

Wilson’s characters are authentically 13. The parallel I drew was to Abi Elphinstone – this is folk lore which would appeal both to folk enthusiasts and to readers who are usually allergic to anything less contemporary. The world the story is set in is recognisably ours, except that different elements of nature have been personified.

I loved the descriptions of the different nature guardians. Wilson describes with action. Her characters are brought immediately to life and interaction. There are no lengthy passages of description in which nothing happens. 

The book has very much been left open to a sequel. At times I felt the ending had been written more for the sequel than the conclusion of book one, but Owl certainly develops as a result of her adventures. I hope this becomes a trilogy - I look forward to a return to this world.    

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