Title: A Handful of Ashes
Author: Garth Nix
Source: Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron ed by Jonathan Strahan
One Word Review: Enchanting
One Line Review: A privileged teenage witch picks on less privileged one, which sets the victim on a race against time to save Ermine College
One Paragraph Review: Over 41 pages this YA tale manages to invoke a witches school, a lead character you want to root for and has a challenging, but not oversized, ordeal for the heroine to go through. Magical schools are overshadowed by JK Rowling’s creation but there is always scope for other writers to tell their own unique tales. And this one does, you immediately see how unfair things are for Mari as she is summoned as a servant and then humiliated seemingly because she’s a poor student and not a rich one but Nix uses that disparage to unsteady and to give a moral lesson to the reader – not a heavy handed one as it’s nicely done. He also shows imaginative flare with flying witches, bone wands, and the meaning of ash.