A Dash of Belladonna by J. Rackham
Lottie Underwood is a 14-year-old who is determined to be the best student yet for Mikaere, an expert in plants and magic. She travels to New Zealand to study how to make magical potions, and many other wonderful things, but soon comes to the attention of Mr Dragicevich’s, who has been kidnapping children. She appears to be his next target, so Mikaere brings in Elsye, an old student, to help out. But Elsye seems more intent on playing practical jokes on Lottie, rather than helping her. And Lottie learns how to summon the deadly Belladonna, but doesn’t know how to control her Belladonna. Meanwhile, The Order becomes involved in what is later referred to as the incident known as ‘A Dash of Belladonna.’
This may all sound a little bonkers, but A Dash of Belladonna is a quirky and original book with lots to recommend it. Lottie is a great character, who is constantly trying to be independent, and getting into trouble. And the book is very humorous, written mostly as a series of letters, which captures Lottie’s enthusiasm and various states of mind as things fall apart around her. I also enjoyed the New Zealand references, and thought it was a nice touch that Lottie comes to New Zealand Aotearoa to have her adventures.
REVIEWER: Karen McKenzie
Lasavia Publishing, $29.95