Author: Irena Brignull
Genre: Young Adult, Middle-Grade, Fantasy
Publication: June 16 2016, Orchard Books
Pages: 304 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to Lovereading4Kids and Orchard Books for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 4/5 cupcakes
The babies were born as the clock struck twelve. A bat fell from the air mid-flight. A silver salmon floated dead to the surface of the river. Snails withered in their shells, moths turned to dust on the night breeze and an owl ate its young. The spell had been cast.
Poppy Hooper has managed to deceive her father into believing that there is nothing mysterious or unnatural about her. He ignores the cats that find her wherever she goes, the spiders that weave beautiful lacy patterns for her, even her eyes - one blue, one green with an extra black dot orbiting the pupil.
Ember Hawkweed is a pitiful excuse for a witch. When the other girls in her coven brew vile potions, Ember makes soap and perfume. Fair and pretty, Ember is more like a chaff than a witch. One of the Hawkweeds will be queen of the witches - but everyone knows it won't be Ember.
When the two girls meet, Poppy discovers her powers, and finds out the truth. Bound by their unlikely friendship and the boy they both love, the girls try and find their place in the world. But the time of the prophecy draws nearer - and the witches won't give up the throne without a fight.
When I was offered the chance to review The Hawkweed Prophecy I was ecstatic! I absolutely adore switched at birth/changeling books so I couldn't wait to delve into this novel and it was every bit as magical and heartwarming as I hoped it would be!
The Hawkweed Prophecy had me enraptured from the first page with its delectable writing. The magical story was brought to life by the scrumptious words strung together and it had that classical fairy tale atmosphere that danced amidst the pages and made falling in love with this book a natural thing to do.
I also became extremely attached to the characters in this book, who were real and brutally honest in detailing the truth of the difficulties of growing up, saying goodbye and trying to belong in this off-kilter world. This is a fantasy book, splashed with spells, potions and cauldrons but it also held a depth to it that shows through the layer of magical calamities. Sprinkled amidst the cauldrons and spell books was an emotional story about three misfit teenagers, outsiders, struggling to find their place in the world. It was about the savior of a friendship, the ache of an impossible love, the arduous battle of finding a place in this jigsaw world and how envy and selfishness makes monsters of us all. I loved how Poppy, Ember and Leo weren't easily accepted by society, like I'm sure a lot of people (myself included) have and it was just so reassuring and comforting to read about characters who feel like they're an unnecessary piece to a puzzle that's already complete. It's a novel that exhales hope - giving the reader reassurance that they too will one day belong, one day find happiness, one day accept themselves and one day come to the realisation that that's more important than any form of acceptance from others.
As I said, I loved the characters. I loved the contrast between Ember and Poppy and their unique personalities. Ember was such a lovely, gentle character and it was refreshing to read about a character that was timid and shy and not fierce and confident like most heroines. I really felt for Ember as she wasn't able to do spells or potions and would rather sit by the river perfecting making soap then make things to cause boils to appear on your face, hence being shunned by the other witches.
Then there's Poppy, the girl with the electrifying mismatched eyes and the ability to cause a fire to ravage a house and a storm to pummel the faces of the cliffs. Coiled among this thrumming power she holds within are a plethora of doubts, insecurities and confusion. I felt so sorry for Poppy as she was shunned by her mother who knew that Poppy wasn't her child and had a father whose eyes reflected back the disappointment and fear that she felt. Poppy felt like an outcast in the human world and at times in the witch world too but it was incredibly uplifting when she found the courage to accept herself and the realisation that her self-acceptance was sufficient.
Then there was Leo, the boy with the scars and a painful story to tell, the boy who sleeps on the streets and a boy who knows all too well the relentless knocks of life. I really liked Leo, I liked his kindness and his selflessness but I would've liked it if I was giving more of an insight into his thoughts and feelings as well as Poppy's and Ember's as I didn't feel like I knew them as well as I could have?
I loved the friendship between Ember and Poppy, it's always wonderful seeing positive, strong female friendships so I really enjoyed that aspect. However, there were a few times where Poppy seemed to value Leo more than Ember and I didn't really like that because I don't believe a boy should be more important than your best friend.
I also liked the relationship between Ember and Charlock (her mom) . There's rarely positive parent/children relationships in books so I was very pleased that Ember and Charlock had such a fantastic mother/daughter relationship.
I'm not sure how I feel about the romance in this book as there is a love triangle and I do think it was an unnecessary one as I personally think it's undeniable that Poppy and Leo were meant to be together - they had chemistry and their relationship had substance. I never really felt or understood the reasoning for the Ember/Leo ship and I'm still undecided on how I feel about the ending.
I enjoyed the plot of the story as well however I would've liked it if the conclusion of the girls' identities was reached earlier on in the book so the reader could see how Poppy and Ember adjust to their new roles as the ending felt slightly too rushed. However, this didn't reduce my enjoyment of The Hawkweed Prophecy in the slightest.
The Hawkweed Prophecy was a bewitching read - one that charmed me with its delectable writing, beautifully flawed characters, magical story line and its raw depiction of the struggle to be accepted and the courage it takes to accept oneself when the world doesn't. It left me spellbound and I guarantee it will cast its spell on you too.
I give it: 4/5 Cupcakes!
*Quotes taken from ARC so subject to change*
"The boy was looking at her like he wanted her to read something in his eyes, but Poppy tried and found herself illiterate."
"'We might not look it but we are the same.' She tapped her heart. 'In here.'"
"'I'm scared of anyone with hate in their heart.'"
"She turned the clock within his hands and bent her head head towards him to show the opening at the back. Trapped inside were the tiny metal wheels suspended there like fallen, silver stars."