The Scent of Magic

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Cover of The Scent of Magic

Author: Cliff McNish

Series: Doomspell

Publisher: Orion

Published in: 2001

Age Range: Pre Teens+

Period: Contemporary

Setting: Earth

Genres:  FantasyMagic


  • Rachel is the 12-year-old first to discover her magical abilities and who feels the greatest responsibility for the safety of the Earth.
  • Eric is Rachel's younger brother with his own unique powers. He and Ruth are tremendously close, and he shares this affection with the Prapsies, bird like creatures he brought back from Ithrea.
  • Yemi is a two-year-old African boy of astonishing magical power.
  • Heiki is an abandoned child, gifted in magic, whom the Witches have trained for their own use.
  • Larpskendya is the greatest of the Wizards who have been fighting the Witches for millennia. He is very close to Rachel and Eric.


Rachel and Eric are just learning to control the powers they discovered on Ithrea when a party of High Witches arrives on Earth to avenge the death of Dragweena. The Witches hunt down all the children who are showing signs of magical ability and indoctrinate and train them for use in their neverending fight against the Wizards.

Rachel must finally face the embittered Heiki, trained by the Witches to hate all grown-ups, and rescue her brother and all the children from the Witches in the Arctic Circle.


Literary Quality: All the books in this series show tremendous imaginative qualities: the ugliness of the witches, the notion of the spells as semi-sentient, the effect on the children of having their magic released stand out among other aspects.

Family Situation: As in the other books, Rachel & Erics parents are real people, not merely obstacles to their children's adventure. They continue to guide Rachel & Eric even when it clear that the situation can only be dealt with by magic users.

Friendship & Loyalty: As usual, Rachel & Eric are very close, as are Eric, the Prapsies and Morpeth who came with them from Ithrea. The Witches do their best by inflicting terrible cruelty and by encouraging vicious competitiveness to inculcate a selfish individualism among the children.

Heiki shook her head and said, “You'd better catch up, girl. The future's a magic world. Forget grown-ups. Mums and teachers and grannies don't matter any more. Caleb told me the Witches are going to make all the kids battle each other anyway — only the best will be allowed to fight the Wizards.”

For a moment, staring at that excited angular face, Rachel had a picture of the future: adults probably killed outright, the weakest children pushed aside, the gifted honed into a Wizard-hating elite — led by a handful of the most ruthless children, like Heiki.

No, Rachel, thought, thinking of Dad. That mustn't happen

Thursday 7th August 2003