Mistress of the Storm

Mistress of the Storm

5.0 3
by M. Welsh
     
 

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Verity Gallant is a lonely little girl who doesn't quite fit in. But when a mysterious stranger hands her an ancient book, everything changes. Suddenly it's up to her to solve the riddle of an ancient pledge and protect her family from the evil Mistress of the Storm. What hope does she have against a witch so powerful she can control the wind and create storms at

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Overview

Verity Gallant is a lonely little girl who doesn't quite fit in. But when a mysterious stranger hands her an ancient book, everything changes. Suddenly it's up to her to solve the riddle of an ancient pledge and protect her family from the evil Mistress of the Storm. What hope does she have against a witch so powerful she can control the wind and create storms at will? Luckily, Verity does not have to face her enemy alone. As events begin to spiral out of control, she finds two loyal and steadfast friends to stand by her side.

The Storm is coming. And it will change Verity's life forever.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Starred Review, School Library Journal, October, 2011:
Verity Gallant, 12, has always been the odd one out–the plain, dark-haired child overlooked in favor of her pretty, talented younger sister, Poppy. Her life changes dramatically after she receives an old book from an exotic stranger whom she sees in her local library. It tells the legends of the Mistress of the Storm, a being who commands obedience and terrifies all who cross her. Suddenly, the girls’ never-before-seen step-grandmother appears, taking over Verity’s room and taking an immediate dislike to the child. New friends Henry and Martha help Verity deal with the cruel woman and try to make sense of the stories she reads. As she begins to understand the many secrets about her family and the truths that are hidden in the book, she realizes that her life is in danger and that she needs to find strength and courage to save her parents and sister. An action-packed conclusion brings answers to many questions and offers a new beginning. Welsh has created a moving and gripping fantasy that will keep readers guessing and a cast of characters that moves beyond stereotypes and expectations, including a variety of helpful grown-ups. Verity is a sympathetic and engaging heroine, and readers will appreciate her friendships and relationship with Poppy, who becomes more sympathetic and supportive as the story evolves. Verity’s grandmother is a threatening, looming presence, and her meek parents add a touch of humor. Fantasy fans will enjoy discovering along with Verity that behind everyday small-town life is a world that offers hidden magic–and not-so-hidden danger.–Beth L. Meister, Milwaukee Jewish Day School, WI

Publishers Weekly
Originally published in the U.K. and first in a planned quartet, Welsh's debut sweeps readers into the harbor town of Wellow, a place of magic, riddles, and mysteries. Verity Gallant is an unpopular and awkward 12-year-old girl who prefers to hide away in the library. That's where she encounters a stranger who gives her an ancient red book about the Keeper of the Wind, a witch rumored to be able to control the weather. This simple act changes Verity's life, leading to new friends and the discovery that she has amazing instincts for sailing. It also leads her deep into the history of her town—a tale of smuggling and dark secrets tied to Verity's family—even as old evils rise again. Welsh's prose is lovely, her characters are well-drawn, and the atmosphere of the town is palpable. In creating a place in the world where a story read aloud can become true, Welsh offers a benediction of sorts to readers, that "every child who is alone or out of place will find the friends they need, and the love they deserve." Ages 8–12. (June)
Children's Literature - Sarah Maury Swan
When Verity Gallant's step-grandmother moves into the family house, he quickly takes over, beguiling Verity's father, pregnant mother and adorable little sister, Polly. Only Verity senses the woman's evilness. Verity has never felt she fit in and has few friends. Although the family lives in a coastal village, her parents have never allowed her to go on a boat. She does make friends with Henry, who teaches her to how to sail and, in the process, learns her place is on the sea. Verity is a natural sailor. As it turns out, her step-grandmother is the Mistress of the Storm. She knows Verity is her natural enemy. The captain of a famed sailing ship gives Verity a red, leather-bound book and an old wooden ball, which hold the key to Verity's strengths and tells her about her grandfather. The town's dark secret and troubling family feuds help make this a tight tale. A lively read, with a good explanation of sailing and a wonderful sense of foreboding, this book will engage romantics, fantasy lovers and readers of good writing. A "Verity Gallant" tale. Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan
Kirkus Reviews

In Albion, there are places where stories become true. Unbeknownst to her, Verity Gallant is at the center of one such tale.

Verity is the unlikely heroine in a story that combines elements from Joan Aiken, Cornelia Funke and J.K. Rowling. Bullied at school, a misfit at home and ignorant of her family history, Verity is the only one suspicious of the "Grandmother" who invades her home to await the birth of Verity's youngest sister. Welsh sets a brisk pace and delivers a nightmare-worthy villain as Verity, with help from her friends combined with some convenient revelations, discovers the horrifying truth. The intruder is the Mistress of the Storm, said to drink the blood of infants to survive. Verity's grandfather, leader of the famed smugglers known as the Gentry, had been duped in the past by the murderous Mistress. In revenge, he created a tale in which Verity is fated to destroy her. The setting and cast of characters are so richly described readers will see the scenes, which cut from one to another, as if watching a movie. For those not content to stay on the surface, there are psychological depths to plumb, a point made in a regrettably didactic last chapter.

This is an exciting debut—with the promise of more to come—that will leave readers clinging to their seats, or masts, as the case may be. (Fantasy. 10 & up)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385752671
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
05/08/2012
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
1,228,404
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.81(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Book One

AUTUMN

Chapter One

Wellow library was quiet. Verity expected it to be quiet. She came here all the time and always had the run of it. Which is why it came as a shock to see a giant of a man kneeling on the floor, in tears.

Wellow is famed, of course. But it is remote too – a far-flung outpost of this great land we call Albion. And he was the most exotic man she had ever seen. Verity knew it wasn’t polite to stare, but she couldn’t help it. His skin was so dark it had a sheen of blue to it. Though hunched on the floor, he was clearly tall – well over six foot – and handsome, with high cheekbones, wide full lips and almond-shaped eyes. His clothes were equally foreign: a long velvet coat made of squares of chocolate brown, burnt orange and bottle green covered a white linen shirt and moleskin trousers. His boots were leather with soft flat soles.

Books were scattered on the floor all around him. In his lap lay a large red volume; his head was bowed over it as silent tears ran down his face. His hand clutched a tiny peg doll carved from a dark shiny wood. It was covered with a few scraps of faded material which might once – a long time ago – have been brightly coloured. An air of unutterable sadness hung over him. Verity’s presence didn’t seem to have registered at all.

It was like finding a panther in your sitting room. Something so vital, so alive, was never meant for the dust-filled air of Wellow library. Verity was filled with an overwhelming urge to comfort the stranger. Without thinking, she took a step towards him . . . And broke the spell. He looked up as if the world had come into focus.

His cheeks were wet and his gaze direct. Slowly he took in everything about her – and more slowly still, the faintest and saddest of smiles appeared. He sprang up from the floor, clutching the book, and ran past Verity to the front door. With one swift push he was gone.

Verity stared in astonishment at the spot where he had been. Miss Cameron, the librarian, continued with her indexing at the entrance. Verity came to life. Running after the man, she burst through the double doors and chased him down the street. More than anything in the world she wanted to know who he was.

Wellow library sits at the junction of two cliff-top paths. One leads to the harbour. The visitor chose the other, running down the narrow track to Steephill Cove.

‘Wait,’ shouted Verity, sprinting. ‘Please wait.’

Below them on the shore lay the fishermen’s boats, their nets gathered in the bilges. Verity was going so fast she had to grab the iron railing every few seconds to steady herself. The stranger didn’t slacken his pace in the slightest. He was on the shore now and heading for a small rowing boat beached there. He untied it and started pushing it out towards the sea.

Verity raced down the last few steps and across the sand. She stopped and stood on the beach, salt water gently soaking its way through her shoes, and called out one last time: ‘Please wait.’

Finally he looked up. Lost for words, Verity realized she didn’t have one good reason for chasing this man all the way down the cliff. Not one good reason. Just an overwhelming sense that it was important to do so.

‘You can’t . . .’ she started. ‘Take books from the library . . . without signing for them.’ Her cheeks burned pink with embarrassment. Surely she could think of something better to say than that?

The man looked with surprise at the book clutched in his hand. To Verity’s astonishment he laughed. A rich melodic sound.

‘Understanding the rules. Yes, that is very important.’ Staring at her for a second, he appeared to make a decision. He took something from his pocket and placed it on top of the book, passing both to her. ‘The storm is coming,’ he said, as if this were an explanation, then turned back to his task.

Verity stood on the shore. Clutching the book under one arm, she examined her other gift. It was a round wooden ball, clearly very old. The surface was smooth from handling, and polished to a rich sheen. It looked a bit like a nut, with a joining seal along one side. Verity shook it. It rattled. She put it in her coat pocket.

She turned the book over to read its title. On the Origin of Stories: A Disquisition by Messrs R. Hodge, Heyworth & Helerley. Embossed on the red leather cover was a golden globe. She opened it and read the Foreword.

All things were created at the Lord of the Sky’s word [it said]. All things were made by him, and without him nothing had life. But once he created our world, it was wild and untamed. And his people suffered greatly at the hands of the elements.

So He of the Sky said, ‘I will give each element a Keeper, to control them and protect my people.’ And he read out a story of their beginning: of four sisters whose duty it was to control the elements. It was a joyous event, and as he spoke, the words fell from the sky. Each place where they landed around the world became a sacred one of special powers, so when a story was read aloud there, it would become true.

Places where stories could become real? Verity thought of the many, many tales she’d read in her short life, and was enchanted. She looked through the rest of the book. It appeared to be a journal or catalogue of some kind. Why had the strange man run all the way down the cliff with it? And why had it moved him to tears?

It was windy, and clouds were skidding across the sky. Verity noticed that the large, fast-moving one above her looked like an old woman.

Hundreds of years ago people believed that such visions were signs of things to come: portents, they called them. These days, with our sophisticated scientific understanding, we know this to be untrue. And most of the time we are right.

But now the storm was coming. And it would change Verity Gallant’s life for ever. Even though she – like a caterpillar wrapped in its chrysalis – knew nothing of it.

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Meet the Author

MELANIE WELSH spent her formative years in the sailing town of Cowes, on the Isle of Wight in England. The tightly-bound community, maritime history, and captivating landscapes were all sources of inspiration for the fictional town of Wellow in which The Mistress of the Storm is set.

Melanie now lives in Suffolk, near the seaside town of Southwold, with her husband Lucien and their two sons, Joe and Ben.  To learn more about the author and her work, please visit VerityGallant.co.uk.

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