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Cinders & Sparrows

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  596 ratings  ·  138 reviews
When a scarecrow climbs over the garden wall, delivering twelve-year-old orphan Zita Brydgeborn a letter saying she has inherited a distant castle, she jumps at the chance of adventure. But little does she know that she is about to be thrust into a centuries-old battle between good and evil. Blackbird Castle was once home to a powerful dynasty of witches, all of them now d ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published October 13th 2020 by Greenwillow Books
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Heather It depends on the child, but for my own children I think this book would be better for my eleven-year-old than my seven-year-old. There are some scene…moreIt depends on the child, but for my own children I think this book would be better for my eleven-year-old than my seven-year-old. There are some scenes that would likely be a little too scary for many seven-year-olds. (less)

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Average rating 3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  596 ratings  ·  138 reviews

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C.G. Drews
I had such fun with this absolute delight of a whimsically spooky tale! Zita was fierce and clever, ready to face ghosts and malicious guardians, but also so sweet and humble. She is quickly loyal to the castle servants, Bram and Minnifer, and tenacious as she settles in to the solve the mysteries behind her suddenly inherited castle. Also: who doesn’t want to inherit a castle!!!! My dream come true in a book.

The writing is also so easy to be swept up in, both descriptive and lovely. It reminde
Oct 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
Cinders and Sparrows is kind of like if Matilda found out she was actually from a family of witches and when she returns home everything begins to go terribly, terribly wrong.

The book follows orphaned thirteen-year-old, Zita Brydgeborn, as she finds out she comes from a great line of witches who are currently under some awful spell and it’s up to her to find her power and fix it. Bachmann has created a beautiful witchy atmospheric middle grade with just enough spook to keep you wondering what i
Kaela Noel
Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a marvelous book! If you are looking for a spooky, charming middle-grade novel with a ton of atmosphere, terrific writing, and a heart of gold, CINDERS AND SPARROWS should be at the top of your list.

First, Zita is one of the most endearing, delightful heroines I’ve ever come across—she reminded me a bit of Jane Eyre in her humility, kindness, and cleverness (not to mention her determination to find out what's lurking up the mysterious staircases in her new home). I just loved her, and I fo
Sep 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs
The digital arc of this book was kindly provided by the publisher via Edelweiss+ website in exchange for an honest review.

This is a story about a young orphan who turned out to be the sole heir to a famous clan of witches. And the book actually was as cool as this premise sounds. It was quite dark and mysterious, the characters had distinct personalities, and even though the villains kind of felt like they stepped out a fairy tale, it added to the overall atmosphere and witchiness of the novel.
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, fantasy, netgalley, arc, ya
For fans of Howl's Moving Castle by Diane Wynne Jones or The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, Cinders & Sparrows is about a resourceful young girl prepared to meet challenges head-on and battle the forces of darkness for her friends and family.

Zita, 12 years old, orphaned, believes she's fated to a life of drudgery as a housemaid when she receives a letter informing her that she's the heir of a powerful witch family and has inherited a castle. What sounds exciting and glamorous turns out to be
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
A cute middle grade novel with pretty writing and a thoroughly fanciful cinematic world. Not a perfect fit for me as an adult reader, especially since knowledge of certain diction makes the villain obvious, but I see no reason the target audience would not be thoroughly charmed by this fantasy tale.

I received this book for free from Greenwillow via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Jan 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
Actual Rating: 3.5 stars
Katie P.
May 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs, ew-netgalley
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Zita is an ordinary girl of 13, raised in an orphanage and employed as a maid. Seemingly out of the blue, she receives a letter summoning her to Blackbird Castle to claim her inheritance. Intrigued by the idea, Zita drops everything and travels to meet a peculiar cast of characters in an old mansion!

Cinders & Sparrows is a brilliant new novel from Stefan Bachmann. Though the premise sounds overused, 'orphan finds out they are the heir to a long lost k
Jul 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Engaging and highly readable YA novel about 12 year old housemaid Zita Brydgeborn who goes from orphan maid to sole heir of a famous witch dynasty (with castle and responsibilities to boot) overnight. But when Zita arrives at Castle Blackbird hoping to be reunited with her long lost family she is instead confronted with a partially destroyed castle that harbors spirits of the dead (both friendly and threatening), rooms that are both deadly and strange, a caretaker who hates her, and a rapidly in ...more
Jan 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
I’m not 100% sure what I expected from Cinders & Sparrows, but what I got was a tale that was completely whimsical and actually really quite creepy. This is the kind of middle grade novel that I would have loved as a child. Thoroughly enjoying the read and then probably needing to sleep with the light on for a few nights! The writing is magical, and truly paints the castle and the characters right in front of you.

Zita Brydgeborn sounds a lot like a bookish cliché, she’s an orphan that discovers
Faith Rice-Mills
I really enjoyed this one! It was like The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina for middle grade books.
Sep 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
*Thanks to NetGalley for giving me an eARC of this title in exchange for an honest review. *

Ingebeth, an orphan and a housemaid, never really had any past or future, until the day a scarecrow delivered a letter to her. Did she know that her real name was Zita Brydgeborn, she was a witch, and her mother had been looking for her since she was kidnapped ten years before? Dreaming of a family she never got to know, and nagged by vague memories of being taken as a toddler, Zita made the long trek to
Pop Bop
May 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
A Satisfying Girl's Own Adventure

The "simple housemaid who finds out she's really the long-lost last living member of a line of powerful witches" is not the most novel hook upon which to hang a magical adventure tale. But the test, of course, is what you do and where you go with that set up. Well, I've read a lot of these, and this one struck me as a real treat.

It's well written, well plotted, atmospheric, and nicely balanced between action bits and periods of calm. But the real star here is our
Karin Schott
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
A lovely Stephan Bachmann book. Such a delight to read.

When my son was younger we would sit in the school library before the bell rang for the start of the day and read magical middle-grade novels. So many smart, curious, brave, young heroes and heroines. It was a wonderful way for both of us to start our day. When he moved to middles school it was not cool to have your mom read to you at school. Our reading tastes diverged. He prefers graphic novel and apocalyptic fiction. I returned to my adu
Jul 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Zita is in for a strange adventure, and one I had so much fun on, when she is given a message from a scarecrow that she's inherited a castle. Right from the start you get a sense of whimsy, that remains throughout, even as just the right amount creepy works in for younger readers.

I love the creative setting and the creatures. The description of the castle gave it a spooky feeling that was still light and filled with wonder. It's a first person tale, and the main heroine is brave, sweet, often sa
Sherry Ellis
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When Zita Bridgeborn, a twelve-year-old orphan, receives a letter from a scarecrow informing her that she is the sole heir to Blackbird Castle, the residence of a prominent family of witches, her world is turned upside down. Little does she know of the treachery that awaits her behind the walls of the cursed castle. Will she prevent the evil Magdeboor from coming back from the dead and bringing more wretched souls with her, or will she become the last of a long line of witches? You'll have to re ...more
Ashling Terese
Oct 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely charming — perfect read for October!
Kathleen Mixon
Aug 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful story full of magic and intrigue. Zita was found after being orphaned 10 years before. At twelve years old she had experienced much heartbreak and toil. Invited to what turned out to be her castle she was going to learn many things and she is able to find out who she was.

This book captured me from the beginning. I wanted to follow Zita and root for her to succeed and to develop into the person she was supposed to be. The characters were very well developed and the world buildin
Dec 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“We will be your blackbirds. We will be your ravens and crows and jackdaws, your dark wings and messengers. We will shepherd your souls to safety.”

Cinders and Sparrows by Stefan Bachmann 5 Stars

Zita Brydgeborn was an ordinary house maid until a scarecrow finds and delivers a letter anouncing that Zita is the only heir to Blackbird Castle. The news changes her life in ways she never could’ve expected. Not only is she a witch, but she’s the only thing standing between the world of the living and
Jan 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
4.5 stars
This book was such a fun ride! I absolutely loved Zita. She tried very hard to learn how to be a witch, but she wasn't perfect and she knew it. Bram and Minnifer (the only servents left) were such good friends to her when they were basically told not to be my Mrs. Cantanker. Mrs. Cantanker was a great "villain." She wasn't THE villain, but ugh she was so mean! The actual villain(s) were so scary and were fantastic villains.
The plot of this book is great! It starts with Zita being an orp
Feb 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Really LOVED this delicious book!

Zita is an orphan working as a maid who receives a mysterious communication that she is the sole heir to a haunted castle. She makes her way across the country and into a creepy wood and a certain Mrs. Cantanker who seems extremely irritated that she is there, and doesn't seem to believe that she is truly the heir to Brydgeborn Castle. Mrs. Cantanker begins reluctantly training her to become who she is meant to be: a witch who banishes ghosts back to the underwor
Bradley (AudioShelf)
I thought this book was extremely magical and full of beautiful storytelling.

I loved the characters, both protagonist and evil antagonists. I loved the gothic castle setting that the story took place at, not to mention the trope of the orphan.

Basically, Zita learns that she’s a witch from a long line of powerful witches. Unfortunately, she’s an orphan and there are people who want to take advantage of that. So the book follows Zita on her journey of self-discovery and finding out what truly ha
Jessica F
"Just like that I went from being a penniless housemaid to the mistress of Blackbird Castle, Pragast Wood, and several desolate mountain peaks, as well as a bank vault in Manzimer in which resided hundreds of thousands of gold galleons and, according to Mr. Grenouille, a unicorn horn and several priceless medallions stolen from the seventh circle of hell."

A pretty predictable but still palatable middle grade read. It's a slow trek to the last page, but every word is well-written, so it's still a
Feb 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, orphans
Stefan Bachmann's dark fantasy is perfect for those who like a creepy tale for a dark night. There are some hints of Harry Potter, but there are also times when Zita seems completely alone in a horror landscape. I also like that Zita's family tree includes not only her benevolent mother but also the disturbing big bad of the story. Highly recommended.

I just have a small complaint about the cover. It is beautiful, but Zita's hair is very specifically described as black and wildly curly. Someone s
Feb 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
This was a really fun middle grade read with witches, magic, a dark castle, curses and ghosts!

It was a very well-written story, with a great cast of characters. Zita reminded me of a young Cinderella but with the powers of a witch, and Mrs. Cantanker was like Lady Tremaine with the ability to summon unearthly things.

It was a slow journey with the bulk of the action happening within the last 5 chapters, but something was always happening along the way to keep the reader entertained.

Would defin
Jan 11, 2021 rated it liked it
A fun adventure. The characters were delightful, the villains properly creepy and the interactions a nice balance between spooky and funny. The reader begins the book as confused as Zita about the rules of this world and the house which was rather an uncomfortable feeling but did help me to sympathize with her. Unfortunately I still felt a bit lost at the end of the book as well which meant I did not feel the satisfaction the resolution was supposed to leave.
Dec 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
For a middle grade book, I enjoyed the storyline and character development. I try to read books before Auggie reads them, and this was one that came in his recent Owl Crate. There wasn't a ton of depth to the story - but, considering the typical audience, I thought it was well written. I would read another of his books! ...more
I initially borrowed this book to read with my son, but then I ran out of time and just ended up reading it myself. Just as well, there’s some dark magic and an evil witch queen, child servants and orphans and some weird shrieky rat like creatures. Technically this should all be okay to any child that has also read any Harry Potter, but it’s also a rather confused story.

There’s also an enormous amount of help Zita gets from her castle, and still she doesn’t put two and two together. She doesn’t
Witches mystery and family made it an interesting read.
Jun 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
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Stefan Bachmann was born in Colorado and spent of most of his childhood in Switzerland, where he graduated from the Zürich University of Arts with degrees in musical composition and theory. He's lived in Tokyo, Prague, and Berlin, and now divides his time between Zürich and a small town on the Dutch border.

He's the author of several books for Greenwillow/HarperCollins, including his debut, THE PEC

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“A philosopher,' said Mrs. Cantanker, stalking across the study, black heels clicking, ruby silks whispering around her ankles, 'is one who attempts to capture the truths of the universe so precisely that they become too confusing to understand. A novelist is one who attempts to capture the truths of the universe in such a roundabout way that they become obvious to anyone who reads them.” 4 likes
“I liked him at once. I always felt I could trust worried, anxious people more than brash ones. Those who strode through life too bravely always struck me as either foolishly unaware of the world's terrors, or else frighteningly powerful and immune to them, neither of which I found endearing.” 2 likes
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