We got real witches in C.B. Lyall’s debut fantasy YA novel, not poor souls drowned in Salem or sexy Halloween harpies, sorceresses, or enchantresses casting spells, but real broom-flying, warts-on-their-noses witches who can light fires with a wiggle of their fingers. Lyall has created a world filled with magic and conflict with a little bit of plague and teenage love.
The Virus of Beauty (Austin Macauley) introduces us to 15-year-old Wilf Gilvary who, born a wizard, really only wants to play soccer. A typical teenager, he defies his father who has his own ideas of his son’s future, and he has his own method of making that happen. A mysterious illness has struck the witches of their realm, and Wilf’s father, Reginald, has the formula for the antidote. He has written it in a journal whose words are invisible to anyone but Wilf, who must use his wizard power to read it.
Wilf has no interest in using his wizard powers; he wants to play soccer. But when his father – poof! – evaporates, Wilf becomes the center of a power struggle between wizards and the witches who (a) want equality of power with wizards and (b) want the formula for the antidote.
So begins the odyssey for poor Wilf, on a broom sucked through a jellied Veil that protects the renegade witches, suddenly the target of people who want to torture him, and vulnerable to the whims and demands of both witches and wizards.
All the while, witches are falling victim to the virus. Witches, of course, are powerful and powerfully ugly. It’s their warts and scraggly hair that give them that power. A compliment: She has a face that would oxidize fruit. Once stricken with the virus, however, they become beautiful – and they lose their magic.
Wilf has been kidnapped and transported to the witches’ domain. They want that antidote. And the wizards want Wilf.
Raised as a “normal,” he’s homesick. He wants to go back to his old friends and his soccer team and everything that he grew up with, but he’s sought after by both wizards and witches. He’s hiding and imprisoned, escaping, running, and – boom – falling in love?
The characters in The Virus of Beauty are complicated and mysterious. Is Myra a spy or a traitor? Will Katryna spend the rest of her life with Wilf as a “normal?” Is Hywel a murderer? And Ermentrude. Really? Is she the toughest witch of all?
What about those earthquakes?
Some first books in a series end neatly and stand as a story on their own, but The Virus of Beauty has called us into a world of wizardry and witchcraft that readers will not want to leave.
The Virus of Beauty is available for purchase.
Learn more about C.B. Lyall on her Author Profile page.
About C.B. Lyall
Carolyn Lyall was born in Stockton-On-Tees, United Kingdom. She has published two short stories in an annual anthology by the Women in Publishing Society Hong Kong. She had a major role in the distribution of these publications, maintained the Society’s website, and wrote a number of articles for the American Women’s Associates Magazine. Visit cblyall.com.