If you or someone you know, suffer from ME, another chronic illness or even just love a fantastical and funny yarn, then ‘Love and Best Witches‘ is for you. I finished this book yesterday and still feel warm and happy after taking a magical journey with 9yr old Louise and her Auntie Nettie who is teaching her niece all about being a witch in her unique, magically funny way, despite suffering from M.E.
I am a huge fan of Maria Mann’s first book ‘Verity Red’s Diary: A Story of Surviving M.E.‘, so I was thrilled when I found out she had published another book. The author is a fellow sufferer of ME, and what I love about her stories is that even though the illness peer’s out at you, it is the humour and magic of her writing that strikes you the most. This is a great gift for those who suffer from the illness, but also a fabulous treat for any reader.
So, let us explore ‘Love and Best Witches’ the latest offering from Maria Mann.
“Once upon a time there was a little girl who had a special pen-friend, her auntie Nettie. Auntie wasn’t very well because she had an illness called M.E. but she could write lovely letters when her hands didn’t ache and she was fun to be with, when well enough for a small visitor, if she hadn’t been over doing it.
Auntie over did it if she spent too long in the kitchen baking Harry Potter chocolate frog cookies or making magical sparkly lemonade; travelling on her broomstick in cold weather without wearing witchy thermal underwear, or doing spells involving: lots of chanting, anointing, collecting of herbs, picking up of heavy goblets, picking up of heavy goblins, ringing of bells or wand waving.”
The story is sweet and every sentence will make you smile, if not cackle along with your new witchy friends. It is told by 9yr old Louise, who loves spending time with her witchy auntie Nettie. It is suitable for young and old alike, although some of the younger readers may not get all the witty references and subtle jokes found woven through the book. You definitely don’t have to be a sufferer of M.E. to enjoy the wonder and magic contained within the words and the amazing artwork contained on each and every page.
I read on Amazon that “The book was written with people who have M.E. in mind, and are often unable to read or concentrate for long. There are illustrations or verses on most pages, to break up the text. The short chapters will make the book easier to put down, so the reader isn’t tempted to tire him or herself.” I would have to disagree; I couldn’t put the book down! Maybe I just couldn’t help giving in to the temptation of reading about what Louise and her Auntie Nettie would do next! Even when I decided it was time to put the book down to get some sleep or eat, I just couldn’t resist having a quick flick ahead to see what beautiful artwork I was missing out on.
There are also recipes contained within the book and I am eager to try them out, especially the homemade ‘Witchy Lemonade’ and the ‘Esbat Gingerbread Men’. However, I don’t think my witchy skills are up to getting the gingery treats to sing and dance like they did for Louise and Nettie!
I must admit that although the book made me cackle frequently (you should have seen the man’s face who was sat next to cackling me one morning on the tube!) it also overwhelmed me to the point of tears at times. As a sufferer of M.E., I am all too aware of the toll this illness takes not just on your body, but on your relationships and your spirit. Yet, here was Maria Mann, a fellow sufferer, writing, illustrating and publishing a book which many healthy people only dream of doing and with her words and artwork going to a place so beautiful, so magical and just so light-hearted and funny…like I said, it overwhelms me!
If you want to take a walk on the magical side, then why not hop on your broomstick and join Louise to go visit Auntie Nettie with Love & Best Witches…