In Starfell’s mystical realm, Willow Moss is the youngest of a family of witches who didn’t exactly get a fair toss of the dice when it came to receiving magical abilities. She doesn’t have quite the same astounding powers as the rest of her family. Her mother, Raine, is a ‘seer’ who supposedly communicates with the dead, while her older sister, Juniper, has the ability to set things on fire and her younger sister, Camille, has the ability to levitate objects with her mind. Willow has a less impressive talent: she can locate misplaced items like keys, socks, and even missing fake teeth.
Certainly practical, but, at least in Willow Moss’s opinion, not all that riveting. She is a timid young witch who spends much of her time caring for Granny Flossy, an eccentric old witch with green hair and a tendency to blow the roof off the home with the potions she produces. It’s not exactly peaceful, but it’s not too exciting, either.
Until the mysterious Moreg Vaine, the most dreaded witch in all of Starfell, pays a surprise visit to Willow Moss and begs for the young witch’s assistance. Because, as it turns out, last Tuesday vanished — the actual day itself — and Moreg must now determine its whereabouts.
Is it possible that Moreg has gone crazy?
At least, that’s what Willow Moss thinks until she tries to recall her activities from last Tuesday and comes up empty. It turns out that she isn’t the only one who has no recollection of the event.
And this is a major matter indeed. Moreg says the danger is that whatever happened on Tuesday could cause the magical fabric of Starfell to unravel. Willow, a timid person who isn’t particularly talented, has been given a responsibility that could have serious consequences.
The young witch’s exciting journey with Moreg to find an oublier (pronounced oo-blee-hair), also known as a forgotten teller, who can read people’s memories of the past, begins here.
Bringing along Oswin, the monster from under her bed, a kobold who seems pretty grumpy (or is he truly part cat? He spends most of his time hidden away in Granny Flossy’s carpet bag (but shh! don’t tell him that!). Kobolds have a keen ability to detect deceit and are immune to most sorts of magic. As a result, he becomes an invaluable and trustworthy travel companion for Willow.
Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worst when the seemingly invincible Moreg is captured by the Brothers of Wol, a group of robed, authoritarian men who are very much against all forms of magic and witches in particular, much to Willow’s despair.
Before Willow Moss and Oswin are left to their own devices, Moreg gives Willow her StoryPass, a compass-like gadget that offers advice like “If I Were You, I’d Run” when she’s feeling lost.
Willow Moss takes the task head on and takes off on her magic broom Whisper, where she meets a wide variety of interesting people.
The dragon Feathering, whose egg just so happened to hatch last Tuesday – and who has been left distraught with an empty egg, his baby dragon missing; Essential Jones, a bespectacled young witch who can freeze things; Calamity Troll, whose fierce reputation is tempered by a secret she harbors; and Nolin Sometimes, an absent-minded oublier who goes into a trance when he reads someone’s memories; are all among her excellent friends.
Of course, in the end, Willow Moss is victorious over the day-thief (for the day has been stolen), bringing back the forgotten and painfully disclosing her own truth about that lost Tuesday.
In Starfell, Dominique Valente has crafted a fantastical world with its own set of magical laws and a cast of memorable, often hilarious characters who live in equally fantastical and imaginative environments (Nolin Sometimes’ stilt house of botanical peculiarities and moon garden are particular highlights).
And in Willow Moss, she has crafted a likable, courageous, and resourceful heroine. The story moves at a breakneck speed, and there are so many unexpected turns that you may need to flip back a few pages to refresh your memory on what happened to whom and why.
However, this is a minor criticism.
There is a lot in this remarkable debut to interest fans of fantasy, magic, and adventure, as well as readers who simply want a good story with a cast of interesting people.
If you like reading Dominique Valente, discover her more books in the series here.