Published by: Farshore, June 9th 2022
Following on from A Pocketful of Stars, Moonchild: Voyage of the Lost and Found and Moonchild: City of the Sun, comes Aisha Bushby's fourth middle-grade novel, A Flash of Fireflies. Perfect for lovers of fairy tales, this is a cleverly crafted novel which powerfully explores anxiety and OCD.
When Hazel is sent to England ahead of her parents, she discovers her Great Aunt's house is the stuff of fairy tales - very similar to the Gingerbread House with a white rabbit hopping about. But as she struggles to adjust to her new life, she discovers that fairy tales have a dark side and that three whispering fireflies have a sinister quest in store for her...
I was very excited to read this novel as anything that involves the grittier side of fairy tales instantly attracts my attention. But while the story didn't disappoint on that front, with the appearance of some legendary fairy tale villains, it is SO much more than a fractured traditional tale. Hazel's story begins with her being uprooted and having to make new friends - something many readers will be able to relate to. However, it also gives readers an insight into what it's like living with crippling anxiety and OCD and the strategies that can be used in the struggle to step back into the light.
As an aspiring storyteller myself, I was in awe of how Aisha Bushby weaved the narrative. Hazel's story is fascinating and although she feels very isolated as a main character, I also loved the supporting cast. The awkward relationship with Grant, who has her own secrets and challenges, feels very real, whilst Amelie the rabbit brings a sense of innocence which contrasts with the fireflies' sinister darkness. The world jumping was smooth but unpredictable and you were never sure what was going to happen next.
This book would be an excellent class read and perfect for creating a dialogue around mental health and OCD. Through the familiarity of the fairy tale world, it shows not tells what it is like to live with a disorder that can potentially control your whole life. Wonderfully plotted and written with a deep insight, this is a book I will definitely read again in the future.
A big thanks to NetGalley and Farshore for allowing me a review copy. A Flash of Fireflies is out in the UK tomorrow, 9th June 2022.
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