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Review: Once Upon a Fever by Angharad Walker

Synopsis

Since the world fell sick with fantastical illnesses, sisters Payton and Ani have grown up in the hospital of King Jude’s.

Payton wants to be a methic like her father, working on a cure for her mother’s sleeping fever. Ani, however, thinks the remedy for all illness might be found in the green wilderness beyond the hospital walls.

When Ani stumbles upon an imprisoned boy who turns everything he touches to gold, her world is turned upside-down. The girls find themselves outside the hospital for the first time, a dark mystery unravelling …

Review

Once Upon a Fever is middle grade at it’s finest, comfortably appealing to not only its target audience, but also older readers. Set in a fantasy world, where your strongest emotions can manifest as sickness, it was captivating from start to finish. The completely unique idea of your emotions spilling out in magical ways was just wonderful, and sure to set any young readers imaginations alight.

The two sisters were poles apart in personality, and had very distinct voices. Fierce and caring Ani, who captured my heart right away. Focused, knowledge driven Payton, who was admirable, if also clearly misguided. Despite the very obvious differences and how distinctly their paths diverge, I enjoyed both halves of the story immensely, and never found myself longing to rejoin the other sister. It was really clever that the individual journeys they took, mirrored and reflected their personalities.

I loved the way that London was instantly recognisable, and yet was completely different in so many ways. The magical elements that pepper the city and it’s inhabitants are really what made the book special. Each new ‘patient’ showing their emotions in various ways was truly exciting, I couldn’t wait to see what magical ailment the sisters were going to encounter next. I’m sure I’m not the only one that has wished to be able to switch off their emotions at various difficult times, but here we have the perfect reminder that although it can be painful in the moment, life wouldn’t be the same without our unique feelings and emotions.

This is a tale that has a little bit of everything. Action, adventure, magic, friendship, and so much more. But there is also a slightly creepy edge to the sister’s story, and their impending sense of doom just lingers at the edge of your vision. The characters are all written beautifully, as you are never quite sure who you can trust, and who might be plotting something wicked. I won’t say much more than that, so as not to ruin any of the surprises along the way.

With some shocking turns right until the very end, I quite literally couldn’t put Once Upon a Fever down. The juxtaposition of the bland, clinical halls Payton finds herself in and the wild nature that Ani encounters, has something for all readers. I can’t recommend this one enough, and will be eagerly awaiting whatever future books Angharad Walker might publish, she is certainly a new favourite for me!

Thanks to the wonderful team at Chicken House for my early review copies. All thoughts are my own.

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