Written by Amy SParkes, Cover Illustration by Ben Mantle, Published by Walker Books

Curses!

Amy Sparkes

When I was a little girl, I adored learning about Ancient Egypt. I was particularly fascinated (perhaps morbidly so!) with Tutankhamun’s Curse. It both horrified me and intrigued me. The idea of curses became firmly embedded in my imagination. So, it was probably only going to be a matter of time before a curse wriggled its way into one of my stories.

Enter ‘The House At The Edge Of Magic.’ It’s hard to say too much about it without giving away any spoilers, so I’ll just say this: the House and its residents are under a terrible curse, and they are unable to break it by themselves. They find themselves in a very tricky situation. Firstly, they are trapped within their magical House and cannot leave it. (This is accidentally the ultimate lockdown book! You have to laugh…) But it gets worse! Because secondly, not only can they not leave the building, but also the curse has affected the House in curious and ridiculous ways, which makes the residents’ lives impossibly maddening. Put simply: the one who placed the curse definitely deserves a round of applause.

Enter Nine… a resilient but miserable little pickpocket who steals the House (in the form of a small ornament) from a lady’s bag. When she knocks on the door of the teeny-tiny House, she becomes embroiled in the curse, and is the only one to break it. But, as with most things, it comes at a cost. And Nine must decide whether she’s willing to pay it.

This book is making its way into the world at a time when many of us are, once again, stuck inside our houses. At least we can identify with the long-suffering residents of The House! When I was thinking about the nature of the curse (and in particular the ‘curious and ridiculous’ elements, which were tremendous fun to create), I had to think carefully about my main character, Flabberghast. He is the main target of the curse. So, I had to work out, what would be his ultimate nightmare? What would drive him round the magical bend?

One of the curses in the House would also be one of my worst nightmares, but I’m not going to tell you which one (spoilers!). You can let me know if you think you’ve guessed it! But there are definitely other ideas which would be good contenders for driving me around the magical bend. Imagine if there was a box of reeeeeally lovely chocolates hovering in the air. And you go to touch them and POOF! Gone. And you fall for it every, single time. Because, being the optimist that I am, I would absolutely fall for it every, single time.

Or perhaps reading your favourite book…. And then discovering the last chapter is gone. Gahhhhh! GIVE. IT. BACK!!!!!

Or what if you’re really tired after a hard day’s work, and you go to bed. I love my bed. I’m up early, usually 5.30am every day, with a full on day of homeschooling, kids, writing and at least an attempt at housework. I very much love my bed. But what if, all tired and dozy-headed, you clamber onto the bed, put your head on the pillow and… PING!! THE BED CATAPULTS YOU OFF ACROSS THE ROOM!!!! Nooooooooo! And every time you climb on… it does it AGAIN!!! Double Noooooooooo! Until at last you give up and go and sleep in the wardrobe. Which is fine. Until the wardrobe begins to dance at midnight. GAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!

But what about you? What would be the curse that would really get under your skin? I think if we had curses like this in our lives, we might be very glad when a young pickpocket knocked on the door. And we might do anything to persuade her to try and help. What would we give? What would we sacrifice to gain that normality back in our lives?

I wonder…

Thank you so much for having me and ‘House’ on the blog tour!

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