Some authors just manage to hit the right spots book after book – and Elle McNicoll is on book number three, all of them utterly different, but all of them featuring neurodivergent heroines who don’t fit the traditional mold and charming readers again and again. And this one may be my favourite yet.
I don’t often review books I’ve bought myself, but this one charmed me into doing it anyway.
RELEASE DATE: 03/02/2022
STAR RATING: 5/5 ✶
SUMMARY: 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. (from Knights Of)
OPINIONS: This is Elle McNicoll’s first foray into fantasy, but deep down, this story about magical creatures is one about the most human quality of them all: being accepted. Being valued not for who others want you to be, but for who you are, whether that meets expectations or not. And through the weaving of a secret underworld of beings from Hulders to Kelpies to Sirens into the beautiful town of Edinburgh and its bookshops, Like A Charm manages to send a powerful message that really, we’re all people, and every single one of us is valuable. (Truly, Edinburgh is a character of its own in this story, not just a city that it happens to be set in. It comes to life along with its inhabitants, testament to the strength of Elle’s writing.)
Ramya, oh Ramya. A dyspraxic heroine, proud of her neurodivergence, with zero interest of fitting into other people’s boxes. Growing up as a stubborn, likely neurodivergent, kid with a disregard for authority and expectations twenty years ago, I would have thrived if I had been able to read a book about a heroine like me. Someone who is weird, but ok with it. Someone who makes their way through life based on their own rules. She is brilliant in her prickliness, charms with her determination and refuses to take no for an answer where it is not merited. She may truly be my favourite character in children’s literature right now, finding her spot among classic characters like Pippi Longstocking or Matilda Wormwood.