A Curse of Ash and Embers by Jo Spurrier
Elodie has an iron will – with a stepfather who loathes her and a mother who does nothing to defend her, it’s the only way she’s been able to survive her hard upbringing. When she receives word that she’s being sent off to work as a servant in the mysterious Black Oak Cottage, Elodie knows she’ll need all the courage and determination she can muster to overcome this new challenge.
A strange journey involving fortune-telling wizards and curse-casting figures in black brings her to the door of the witch Aleida. Despite her magical powers, Aleida is having a similarly hard time of things: her predecessor was a witch named Gyssha Blackbone, and her penchant for making monsters has left Aleida with a mess to clean up. With Elodie’s grit and Aleida’s cunning, the pair will face down restless ghosts, angry warlocks and demonic trees.
Australia has a strong tradition of rich, inventive YA fantasy thanks to authors like Garth Nix, Isobel Carmody and Alison Croggon, and now we can add Jo Spurrier’s name to the list with her first book for teens. A Curse of Ash and Embers is a dark but engaging coming-of-age tale full of mystery that will have fans 13+ hooked. This promises to be the start of a new series that will greatly appeal to readers looking for intriguing world building supported by a twisting plot.