Twinkling stars

Cover of The Serpent's Spell

It's a slithery tale...

When a suspicious fire destroys everything in ten-year old Wil Wychwood’s life, he must leave Toronto to live with his aunts and a cousin he has never met. With nothing but his pet snake Esme and his grandmother’s gift of a mysterious black medallion and a gold ring, Wil boards a train destined for adventure. A magical portal reveals that his new home and family live in the hidden city of MiddleGate, where nothing is as it appears.

Cousins Wil and Sophie become entangled in a case of serpicide – snake murder – in the ancient caves of Narcisse. They learn to master the magical power of shadows, but will it be enough? Can Wil and Sophie decipher the mystery of the medallion in time to save the snakes—and themselves?

Author reading

Town Crier's proclamation


The bus weaved along busy streets and as it stopped at a red light, Wil's eyes fixed on an ornate wrought-iron door decorated with two green serpents, which looked as though they were guarding the door. Then the bus jolted along a side street pitted with potholes until it turned into a large, deserted parking lot by a brick house. It seemed to be the only house in the area, surrounded as it was by a sea of parking lots dotted with warehouses. A rising sunburst decorated the peak of the house, and a five-pointed star graced each corner.

Why were they stopping in a parking lot filled with old weeds? A sign by the side of the parking lot said Half Moon Lane but there was no street. The bus inched past a rusty dumpster filled with garbage bags. Two men were unloading cartons at one of the warehouse loading docks, but they didn't even look up when the bus rolled past them.

The bus turned to face a brick wall at the back of the house. A faded mural on the wall featured an enormous box of Black Mirror chocolates, and underneath in peeling letters the words, Satisfy Every Sweet Desire. The wall had gaping cracks and was missing chunks of mortar. Faded pink insulation poked out from a stovepipe hole, beneath which there was a green door with a small brass doorknob.

The bus driver got up from his seat, stepped out of the bus and inserted an ornate key into one of the chocolates. Then he clambered back onto the bus. The bus jerked forward, its engine chortling. The box of chocolates began to melt away. Wil blinked his eyes.The bus was driving right through the wall.

Wil looked about wildly, but no one else seemed the least bit interested that they...they were driving right through a solid brick wall...into a long stone tunnel lit by lanterns. Wil turned to look back at Sophie. Her eyeglass frames were brilliant yellow. Hadn't they just been red and white polka dots? Wil looked down at Esme, shut his eyes for a moment and wished he could curl up tight inside her little hut.

Also available in French

Le sortilège du serpent, par Rae Bridgman (trad. Sophie Beaume)

Le sortilège du serpent
(transl. by Sophie Beaume)
Editions AdA

The Serpent's Spell

print copy available through
McNally Robinson Bookseller

FREE e-book (*.pdf)

McNally Robinson Book
for Young People Award

"a quaint little novel that is
perfect for a rainy day"

“a unique feel”

“in a class of its own”

“sentence after sentence of
melodiously evocative language”

"in fiction for young readers,
the quality of prose does not
get better than this"

“superb page-turning flight of fancy”

“characters are exciting and fresh
and the plot is fast-paced
and creative”

"marvelous hidden world of MiddleGate"

"a series to keep your eyes on"


Snakes aren't the only victims in Bridgman's superb page-turning flight of fancy....[and] there is a lot of fun to be enjoyed before the serpicide mystery is solved. There is also a good deal of useful information about snakes, their habits and habitats. Finally Bridgman's spellbinding story has sentence after sentence of melodiously evocative language....If it's exquisitely told spells you're after, 'The Serpent's Spell' has more than enough for even the most discriminating and insatiable reader. full article
—M. Wayne Cunningham, Books in Canada 35(7)[October]:39-40, 2006

The Serpent's Spell is a delight for all readers! Rae Bridgman adds sorceress zeal with a numeristic table of contents, Latin verbiage, and sketchings that bring the magic of snakes and sorcery alive. As this first adventure begins, the reader is left with one key question.... when will the next adventure begin?
full article

—Regan Windsor, Reader Views

Rae Bridgman has created a wonderful yarn that is reminiscent of the Harry Potter series in that witchcraft, sorcery, and unusual magical games are the backdrop; but there the comparison ends. The Serpent's Spell is in a class of its own. full article

—Shelly Campbell , Sime-Gen Reviews

The Serpent's Spell is a quaint little novel that is perfect for a rainy day....The twist with all the snakes was quite enjoyable and the revealing of the antagonist behind the deaths of so many snakes took me by surprise. Reading the climax over again, I remembered all of the clues that the author dropped throughout the novel and was kind of mad at myself that I hadn't figured it out sooner....This is a series to keep your eye on, and hopefully there will be many more books to come! full article

—Lindsey, Sarah's Stars

[The Serpent's Spell] has an atmosphere and mood of its own...a charming and engaging story...including lovely illustrations and quizzical latin phrases for each chapter, it was fun to turn the pages. full article

—Amberdrake, FantasyBookSpot

Bridgman’s snake lore and information about eggs, specifically magical Firebird eggs, sets her magical fantasy apart from other Harry Potter-type books....The Serpent’s Spell is a delightful read. It is hoped that Rae Bridgman will continue Wil and Sophie’s adventures in MiddleGate for years to come. full article

—Janie Franz, MyShelf

...a very nice edition. Bridgman divides her story up into 52 short chapters..., but also provides a neat drawing as a chapter heading, as well as a Latin saying for each; the combination made for a unique feel. full article

—James Schellenberg, BiblioTravel: For Books That Take You Away

The Serpent's Spell is an ambitious first trip down a fantasy path that is already well-blazed by such notables as J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter), Eion Colfer (Artemis Fowl) and Jenny Nimmo (Charlie Bone)....

—"Ambitious fantasy weaves magic in Winnipeg," Brenda Suderman, Winnipeg Free Fress

[F]ans of fantasy will undoubtedly delight in the magic, engaging protagonists, talking statues, a mischievous library ghost, unique school activities, an ophidiophobic Minister on the Status of Magical Creatures, cops called Firecatchers, the bullying Sly twins, and the other minutiae of daily life in MiddleGate. full article

—"What secrets do the snakes of Narcisse hold?" Darleen Golke, Canadian Review of Materials (CM)

There are many interesting features of MiddleGate that young readers will appreciate: phosphoworm lanterns; eyeglasses whose frames change colour; unusual sweet foods such as snakecake and chocolate toads; the "ditchball" game they play; and the school subjects they study (numeristics, verbology, cartology, botanicals, shadow-cutting). I like the way the author includes Manitoba features such as mosquitoes, cold winter weather, the Dragonfly Festival at Bird's Hill Park, and the Narcisse Snake Pits. At the same time many features of MiddleGate are completely different, such as the mysterious exploding blue eggs and the talking statues. full article

—Donna Gamache, Prairie Fire: A Canadian Magazine of New Writing

Wil has a magical medallion that his grandmother had entrusted to him before she died in a suspicious fire, and it may have something to do with the mystery of the snakes. The kids encounter danger with kidnappings, serpents, evil magic, and shadow duals....The characters are exciting and fresh, and the plot is fast-paced and creative. full article

—Grandma Bev, Teens Read Too

The pace is fast...and the quotes in Latin...[are] a nice touch that adds to the overall fun! full article

—Douglas R. Cobb, Curled Up with a Good Kid's Book

See also the reviews by Laura Lehman, SF/Fantasy Books at and Heartland Reviews

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