The Accidental Princess by Jen Storer and Lucia Masciulla

This book will sparkle on shelves and the invitation for young girls to pick it up will be temptingly strong. The delightful cover promises a sweet story of a young girl who will probably meet some beautiful fairies and they’ll all live happily ever after. What a deceiving façade! Matilda and Iris are sisters whose opposite natures often tend to conflict and, after one argument, Matilda takes a precious coin that Iris treasures greatly. What this unleashes isn’t a delicate tale of fey folk and gentle magic, but of old battles, dark curses and sinister characters.

This is a fine old-fashioned adventure that has just the right amount of scariness to drive the narrative and make the reader care about the sisters and their plight. Along with the humans, there are some quaint animals, loyal pixies, delicate pillywiggins, nasty imps and other marvellous and creepy folk. My favourite is the invincible Binny Trinket with her crisp turn of phrase and pushy ways; who would have thought a mouse could have so much gumption!

The Accidental Princess is the perfect package of strong story accompanied by atmospheric illustrations and, of course, that pretty, pretty cover. For ages seven and up.

Alexa Dretzke is a childrens' book specialist at Readings Hawthorn.