A Girl Called Owl by Amy Wilson
Genre: Fairy-tale, Retelling
Published by: Pan Macmillan
Pages: Under 300
Format: ARC e-book
Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Just from the blurb, I knew there was going to be a lot to like about A Girl Called Owl. It’s got a fairy tale retelling element to it, though the source material is some I’ve never seen tackled before, and it’s marketed as middle grade, which I’ve been trying to read a lot more of recently, so it feels great to read something up and coming from this genre!
P L O T & P A C I N G
Owl has never known who her father is, but since she’s turned 13, strange things are happening to her that finally give her the courage to ask her mother for a straight answer. After a few failed attempts, Owl is finally told that she’s the daughter of Jack Frost, and suddenly all the ice forming at her hairline suddenly makes sense.
There’s also a new boy in school, Alberic, who holds extended eye contact with Owl and so there must be something supernatural about him to. There is! He’s the son of the Earl of Autumn and Owl becomes his kind-of-apprentice as she learns about the world he and her father are from, how she can use her powers and why she was born in the first place.
I thought the structure followed the classic progression of other girl-discovers-a-secret-identity stories. The pacing was good so that you got the reveal of Owl’s father relatively soon in the book, but I was disappointed that nothing really juicy happened until after halfway through, when Owl found herself in the court of the seasonal…beings.
I did get a little bored of the repetitive late-night-with-Alberic-wake-up-in-bed thing that happened at least three times in the book. At least it didn’t open with Owl waking up (I don’t think?) but the constant cycle of this made me feel like we weren’t moving forward at a fast enough rate.
Overall, I got a very first-book-in-a-series vibe from this. It did a good job to set up the character and give her some internal conflict about her birth and what she was put in the world to do, but didn’t give me a great sense of adventure that I was hoping for.
F A I R Y T A L E
Something that A Girl Called Owl really delivered on was the fairy tale element I was anticipating. I really only know Jack Frost from the Rise of the Guardians, so it was hard not to picture him as a white haired teenage boy, but I really enjoyed that Wilson created her own Jack Frost that felt different yet familiar and played a role in a much larger society of supernatural beings.
The parts in italics, that gave some background to each of the fabled characters, and let you into Jack’s thought processes to a certain extent, were some of my favourite parts to read and they definitely helped to pull the story along.
V E R D I C T
Overall, I’m giving A Girl Called Owl 2.5 stars. I liked what I read, but I just wanted more. I wanted this book x2. It was quite short, which I’ll hold responsible for this prologue of a first book, but I’m really looking forward to a genuine adventure with Owl and Jack Frost, when the stakes are high, a villain is truly established and the characters are aware of the roles that they play. So, really, my final thought is: bring on more!