Stefan Bachmann: Cinders & Sparrows (Greenwillow Books – HarperCollins 2020)
Nothing is what it first seems to be.
It was the first day of autumn, when the trees change their green clothes to bronze, the pumpkins ripen, and the moon appears early in the sky. It was the perfect time for a witch to return to her ancestral home. Of course, Zita didn’t know at the time that she was a witch and that her family had been protecting the world of the living from those who wanted to harm it for many centuries. Until now, Zita thought she was an orphan, but as it turns out, the famous (infamous) Blackbird Castle belongs to her family. However, when she arrives, she is not welcomed with open arms, but by tough training to be able to do well as the last heir of the Brydgeborn dynasty. She makes both friends and enemies, but is the friend really a friend and is the enemy about to harm her?
The story captures the mood of gloomy autumn and wet winter, which is made even more alive by the isolated castle. We cannot be completely sure of the intentions of the characters until the end, but Zita bravely endures the trials and is guided by her good heart throughout. I liked the liberating ending of the book the best: because everyone got what they deserved…
Stefan Bachmann was born in Colorado but spent his entire childhood in Switzerland in an old house next to the forest. After living in Prague and Tokyo, he currently spends his time mainly in Zurich and Berlin. He was only 19 when his first novel was published. He mainly writes dark fantasy and his works have been published in more than 15 countries.