Winter Wood by Steve AugardeRobin: Winter Wood, the final novel of the Touchstone Trilogy, is set a few months after The Various. It brings together the stories in the first two books, as the subtle connection between Midge and Celandine, her great-great-aunt, comes into sharper focus.

After the terrible experience of the attack on the farm, Midge and her cousins just want to forget the Various, but Pegs hasn’t finished with Midge yet. The Various are having a hard winter as the forest can no longer sustain them, and after the events of the previous year they also feel vulnerable to the Gorji. It has become imperative that they leave. Pegs and Maven-of-the-Green seem to have an unspoken understanding that it is time for the Touchstone and the Orbis to be brought together at last. Pegs asks Midge to discover the whereabouts of the Orbis, while Maven-of-the-Green persuades the sternly practical Maglin, who now rules the Ickri, to explore the powers of the Stone.

Midge undertakes some detective work to uncover the life-story of her great-great-aunt, but when the Orbis turns up it is apparently by accident—though Pegs knows better: it is all destiny and everything is connected. Pegs is quite mystical at times. This book does not give any final answer as to where the Various came from, or explain anything about Elysse, but sometimes mystery trumps revelation.

Don’t you hate that frequent ending of magical books—the magic is over and everything is back to ‘normal’? Although there is a sad coda where the children look round the desolate forest after the Various have gone, unknown to them two have stayed behind, so it is not quite deserted, and is secret once again.

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