The first book in this trilogy, The Book of Learning, was the Dublin UNESCO City of Literature Citywide Read 2016, and deservedly so. It follows the adventures of orphan Ebony Smart who is sent from Oddley Cove to live with her Aunt Ruby in Dublin when her grandpa Tobias dies. Whilst there she discovers she is a member of a magical group, The Order of the Nine Lives, but has to ascertain who she can trust, and discover truths and secrets.
The Book of Shadows picks the story up at a cliffhanger and the plot unfolds rapidly, with mystery, thrills and adventure in equal measure on every page. Murray is strong on description and characterisation – her ability to have characters and events live on in memory long after the book is finished is testament to this gift, and is of great appeal to readers who will find much to empathise with in Murray’s world, where adults are morally ambiguous and trust must be earned. Whilst knowledge of the first book is desirable, readers can pick up the story at this point. New characters are introduced and new treachery is afoot, as Ebony faces a backlash from Order members who distrust her family and her position as Guardian.
Highly recommended for readers of 9 +.