Sylvie is dying. A victim of crippling allergies, poisoned by the pollution and chemicals of modern life, Sylvie is trapped in a hospital bed while her mother and doctors watch her life slipping away. But one of them offers her a chance. There’s an alternative community – Stonewylde – hidden away behind high boundary walls in a corner of Dorset. If their leader, the charismatic Magus, would let Sylvie visit then perhaps the clean air and green lifestyle may restore her vitality. Or at least give her some measure of peace before she dies. It’s a chance, and when Sylvie and her mother take it, they find themselves in a haven of tranquillity and beauty.
But it’s not all idyllic. The Magus sends a moody, secretive Village boy to work in their garden as a punishment. He warns them to stay away from him – he’s rebellious and in deep trouble. But Sylvie is curious about Yul and, as their forbidden friendship grows, she sees that all is not quite as it seems at Stonewylde. Why was she told to keep away from Yul – and why are she and her mother so drawn to the Magus? Is the crone on the hill really a powerful wise-woman, or just a crazed old hag bent on destroying the peace with her wild prophecies? And what exactly is the magical secret at the heart of this seemingly perfect community?
Lying in a hospital bed, on the verge between life and death, it is clear that Sylvie doesn’t have long left. With allergies, painful eczema and asthma, she is pushing the twenty-first century away and the environment in which she lives in is killing her. But then she is offered a lifeline. Deep in the heart of rural Dorset, the walled community of Stonewylde could offer Sylvie comfort in her last days, or even promise to heal her…
As my favourite book of all time, Magus of Stonewylde and the rest of the Stonewylde series hold a very special place in my heart. These books have changed the way I look at life and inspired me to write myself.
The author, Kit Berry, and I at a book signing in November 2012
Our two main characters, Yul and Sylvie, are both inspiring and invoke a feeling of sympathy so great that the reader’s heart will break for them. It’s not often that in a book with two protagonists of different genders that the reader gets a balance of the two perspectives but this was an aspect that was written perfectly and the reader grows attached to both characters equally.
The book is full of villainous characters that will make you want to hurl the book in anger, but please don’t do that because this book does not deserve to be harmed.
The use of foreshadowing in this book means that the reader gets hints about the future novels in the series.
Written in third person, this book sees many different perspectives which means that a wider part of the novel is revealed and the reader can get intimate with the less important characters (even though they’re all special to me!).
I cannot end this review without mentioning the descriptive and beautiful way that the author writes. When I close my eyes, I can picture the Village Green, with its magnificent yew, and the Great Barn, with the many Villagers gathered around. Stonewylde is as real to me as my own home is.
Magus of Stonewylde deals with many harsh subjects- segregation, abuse, tyranny- and all were dealt with very well. There wasn’t an uncomfortable moment when reading this book.
Please, if you don’t do anything I say again, buy this book and read it. It will definitely be worth your time.