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Eva Ibbotson

Eva Ibbotson(1925-2010)
Besides the Young Adult romantic historical fantasy novels below, Eva Ibbotson has written several children’s books and has written for television and film.

Which Witch?: Very funny with unexpected depth

Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson

Arriman Canker (better known as Arriman the Awful, Loather of Light and Wizard of the North) is a dark wizard in search of an heir after a gypsy fortune teller prophesies the coming of another wizard to Darkington Hall. Arriman is excited about the prospect of a pupil in the dark arts, but it takes his long-suffering castle staff to point out to him that the only way to beget a child is to take a wife. The village of Todcaster is full of witches, and surely one of them would make a suitable bride. But Arriman is picky — he only wants to marry the darkest witch there is. So a competition is declared: the witch who performs the blackest magic is the one that will become the future Mrs Canker and mistress of Darkington Hall.

The competition is declared, and the witches of Todcaster are beside themselves with excitement — except one. Belladonna, the youngest member of the coven, has fallen in love with... Read More

The Secret Countess : Light historical romance from a fantasy author

The Secret Countess (aka A Countess Below Stairs) by Eva Ibbotson

As a Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer enthusiast, I’m always on the lookout for historical novels in that mold, with manners, a little romance and lots of deliciously witty dialogue. I previously was familiar with Eva Ibbotson solely from her 1994 children’s fantasy The Secret of Platform 13, in which a magical door at Platform 13 of King's Cross Station in London opens every nine years for a nine-day period, leading to a delightful kingdom where humans, mermaids, giants, hags, nymphs and other magical creatures live. (The similarities to Platform 9¾ in J.K. Rowling’s Read More

The Secret of Platform 13: Delightful, fantastical fun

The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson

Eva Ibbotson is a well-loved children’s author, and it is books like The Secret of Platform 13 that make me glad that I have no qualms about reading beyond the confines of suggested age groups. In fact, I find the experience particularly indulgent.

As a quick prologue, I note that some people have made much of the similarity between Ibbotson’s Platform 13 at Kings Cross Station and the one used by J.K. Rowling, Platform 9 3/4. I don’t have much to say on the subject, only that the books are very different in most other ways and honestly, it’s not worth getting excited about.

With that said, I can get on to the important things.

Once every nine years a secret door called ... Read More

More books by Eva Ibbotson

Eva Ibbotson fantasy book reviews Magic FlutesMagic Flutes — (1982) Young adult. Publisher: Spring, 1922 Tessa is a beautiful, tiny, dark-eyed princess – who’s given up her duties to follow her heart, working for nothing backstage at the Viennese opera. No one there knows who she really is, or that a fairy-tale castle is missing its princess, and Tessa is determined to keep it that way. But secret lives can be complicated, and when a wealthy, handsome Englishman discovers this bewitching urchin backstage, Tessa’s two lives collide – and in escaping her inheritance, she finds her destiny…Magic Flutes is an enchanting story of love, music and secret princesses from Eva Ibbotson.

Eva Ibbotson fantasy book reviews A Company of SwansA Company of Swans — (1985) Young adult. Publisher: For nineteen-year-old Harriet Morton, life in 1912 Cambridge is as dry and dull as a biscuit. Her stuffy father and her opressive aunt Louisa allow her only one outlet: ballet. When a Russian ballet master comes to class searching for dancers to fill the corps of his ballet company before their South American tour, Harriet’s world changes. Defying her father’s wishes and narrowly escaping the clutches of the man who wishes to marry her, Harriet sneaks off to join the ballet on their journey to the Amazon. There, in the wild, lush jungle, they perform Swan Lake in grand opera houses for the wealthy and culture-deprived rubber barons, and Harriet meets Rom Verney, the handsome and mysterious British exile who owns the most ornate opera house. Utterly enchanted by both the exotic surroundings and by Rom’s affections, Harriet is swept away by her new life, completely unaware that her father and would-be finacé have begun to track her down…

Eva Ibbotson fantasy book reviews Madensky SquaresMadensky Square — (1988) Publisher: An enchanting corner of a romantic, vanishing world — illuminated by the magnificent love of one indomitable woman. A historical romance in which the elegant owner of a dressmaking shop on Madensky Square plies her trade in the glittering Vienna of 1911, a world of romance, music and gossip.

Eva Ibbotson fantasy book reviews The Morning GiftThe Morning Gift — (1993) Young adult. Publisher: Twenty-year-old Ruth Berger is desperate. The daughter of a Jewish-Austrian professor, she was supposed to have escaped Vienna before the Nazis marched into the city. Yet the plan went completely wrong, and while her family and fiancé are waiting for her in safety, Ruth is stuck in Vienna with no way to escape. Then she encounters her father’s younger college professor, the dashing British paleontologist Quin Sommerville. Together, they strike a bargain: a marriage of convenience, to be annulled as soon as they return to safety. But dissolving the marriage proves to be more difficult than either of them thought — not the least because of the undeniable attraction Quin and Ruth share. To make matters worse, Ruth is enrolled in Quin’s university, in his very classes. Can their secret survive, or will circumstances destroy their love?

Eva Ibbotson fantasy book reviews A Song for SummerA Song for Summer — (1997) Available for download at Young adult. Publisher: Eighteen-year-old Ellen never expected the Hallendorf school to be, well, quite so unusual. After all, her life back in england with her suffragette mother and liberated aunts certainly couldn’t be called normal. but buried deep in the beautiful Austrian countryside, ellen discovers an eccentric world occupied by wild children and even wilder teachers, experimental dancers and a tortoise on wheels. And then there is the particurally intriguing, enigmatic, and very handsome Marek, part-time gardener and fencing teacher. ellen is instantly attracted to the mysterious gardener, but Hitler’s reich is already threatening their peaceful world. only when she discovers Marek’s true identity and his dangerous mission does ellen realize the depth of her feelings for him — and the danger their newfound love faces in the shadow of war.

Eva Ibbotson The Reluctant HeiressThe Reluctant Heiress — (2009) Publisher: Being an heiress in 1920s Austria with nothing but a broken-down castle to your name and nary a penny in your purse could be frustrating for anyone but the Princess Theresa-Maria of Pfaffenstein. “Tessa,” however, is thrilled with her situation, as it allows her to concentrate on her love of the arts — and no one in the Viennese opera company need know that their delightful and charming under-wardrobe mistress is really a princess. But when the dashing self-made millionaire Guy Farne arrives at the opera in search of suitable entertainment for his high society guests, Tessa realizes that there may be more to life — and love — than just music. But while the attraction between them in undeniable, Guy’s insufferable snob of a fiancée only solidifies Tessa’s determination to keep her true identity a secret. Yet, after a chance meeting with the handsome Englishman, Tessa’s reserve begins to melt, and she starts to wonder if it’s not too late for a fairytale ending…

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