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Review: The Time Of Green Magic

The Time of Green Magic

Title: The Time of Green Magic
Author: Hilary McKay
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy, Magical Realism
Page Count: 240
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Date Published: July 28, 2020
You can find a copy here: Bookshop.org


Blended families are tough. But especially so when you live in an odd, ivy covered home that has the seemingly magical ability to make elements fall out of stories. Like a leaf, or snow, or … a leopard.

Abi’s father has married Max and Louis’ mother, and things aren’t off to a great start. When the new family is forced to move after their landlord sells their apartment, things get even rougher. While everyone fell in love with the eerie, ivy covered house at first, its greater expense now means more hours at work for the parents, a babysitter (which older teen Max doesn’t appreciate), Abi is forced to share more than she wants, and Louis has made a startling and somewhat dangerous new friend.

In order to set things right and return Louis’ friend to its rightful home – Abi, Max, and Louis must come together and work through the magic and secrets of their new house before someone gets hurt.


This book is the perfect combination of weird, heart, eeriness, and beautiful writing that makes it feel like it was written just for me.

I have a love-hate relationship with magical realism …. in that I either love it tremendously and is my absolute favourite read of the year or I loathe it entirely. And it rarely falls in the middle. Luckily, this was the former.

It was Hilary McKay’s writing here that did it for me, so wholly unique and addictive. At times, a little clunky and convoluted but capturing so much heart, reality, and emotion that it cast a spell on me. Being such a short book at 240 pages, everything about this little novel was intentional … no extended scenes, massive journeys, or big reveals. Everything was quietly propulsive, steadily eery, and a whole host of “what is going to happen next” chills and thrills. The pages easily kept turning.

The heart of this book, though, is love. How Hilary captures the magic of family and that its true beauty is what lies within its flaws and chaos. This was a family I wanted to be apart of, it was a family that I felt I knew. It was this sense of warmth and understanding and love that radiated out from the pages and made this story genuinely magical.

Each character was fully drawn and respected in their own right. Often times the younger sibling is painted as annoying – not here. Or the older sibling is all knowing and put upon – not here. Each kid was splendidly real – flaws, faults, and strengths. Never repetitive or formulaic.

The parents were present and understanding – almost to an inhuman degree – which was another nice break from the “parents have to die to have drama” trope.

Overall this genuinely warm and heartfelt story ticked all the boxes for me: weird, wonderful, eery, complex family, with genuine love & acceptance. I wanted to curl up in this magical house covered in ivy and stay. A quiet, deliberately paced novel with a unique and engaging writing style, Hilary McKay is a new favourite middle grade author. Thrills, chills and warmth – I think this one will appeal to many different ages and readers.

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