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The Miraculous Sweetmakers: The Frost Fair – Natasha Hastings

During the Great Frost of 1683, Thomasina forms a friendship with Anne: the latter is an apprentice at the family apothecary while the former runs her father’s sweet shop. Now, the pair have teamed up to sell their goods on the frozen River Thames. When a family tragedy destroys Thomasina’s world, a mysterious conjuror makes her an offer, which draws her into the Other Frost Fair and the world of Father Winter. However, this offer comes with a price…

You know you’re reading a powerful story which will stay with you when it leaves you almost sobbing at the end of chapter 1 (cue the children in my class asking what on earth I was reading!) – this harrowing opening sets it apart from the other children’s books out there and without any spoilers, sets the tone for Thomasina’s journey in this book. Jumping four years later, we join her and her family in their grief, in a period of history where mental illness is not understood and you can pay to wander Bedlam in order to observe its struggling occupants. It’s a story of grief, magic and friendship – if a conjuror offered you what you most desperately desired, wouldn’t you accept? It’s a profound question and one I’m sure which would lead to interesting discussions in the classroom and at home. It all leads to the most spectacular of endings – Father Winter’s final power grab and the resolution to what Thomasina has been trying to achieve. Make sure you have tissues!

I have always been interested in the Restoration Period of history when the River Thames froze over and the frost fair appeared so I loved the historical element of The Miraculous Sweetmakers coupled with the dark fantasy posed by the Other Frost Fair. Giving Ross Montgomery vibes mixed with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, The Miraculous Sweetmakers: The Frost Fair is a truly enchanting wintery tale. It sweeps you off to London in 1683 through such vivid language and keeps you enthralled as Thomasina agrees to something to help her family, without realising the dire consequences it brings to herself.

It’s so hard to discuss this book without spoilers but what I will say is that Thomasina is one of the most interesting female leads I’ve read. She is a young girl light years ahead of her time, struggling essentially as a young carer and caught in a world where society has expectations for women but yet, she and new friend Anne are determined to break these limitations. Their friendship is an absolute joy to see and I am so excited to see what happens next for this fascinating duo. Thank you to HarperCollins for this dazzling proof, which is sure to be one of the best reads of 2022, and while the artwork is still to come, I will definitely be buying a finished copy to witness the stunning light and darkness of The Frost Fair in all its amazing glory. This would make an absolutely brilliant class story in Years 5 and 6 so I can’t wait to share this tale of magic, friendship and medicines with my class.

Suggested reading age: 9+

The Miraculous Sweetmakers: The Frost Fair is written by Natasha Hastings and illustrated by Alex T. Smith. It will be published by HarperCollins on 27th October 2022. Why not preorder with an indie bookshop? The Rocketship Bookshop have copies available here.


Published by Tom G

Avid reader. Dad of 2. Husband. Assistant Headteacher.

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