Breaking the Spell: Stories of Magic and Mystery from Scotland

This collection of ten Scottish folklore stories retold by Lari Don is a mixture of well-known tales such as the story of Tam Lin and others that are less familiar. Lari draws on her experiences as a storyteller in schools and libraries around Scotland to bring these tales to life. She is a wonderful storyteller – the reader feels an almost instant connection to the main characters and the personal introductions to the ‘Loch Fada Kelpie’ and ‘Whuppity Stoorie’ tales immerse the reader even further. It was hard to pick a favourite as each story has its own charm and appeal but I am slightly biased towards ‘School for Heroes’ (perhaps because our very own Cuchulainn makes an appearance!). I particularly enjoyed the powerful female characters of the warrior Skiach and her daughter Utah. The first story ‘The Selkie's Toes’ might be a bit too gory for very young children but the rest would be suitable for that age group.

Cate James’s evocative illustrations deserve a mention as they perfectly capture the Scottish landscape that is referred to in the stories. Her characters are quirky and vibrant. The rich imagery would make this book a perfect gift item. Be warned: these beautifully told stories and accompanying artwork will make you want to book a trip to Scotland once you read them!