Book Review: Which Witch? (by Eva Ibbotson)
Which Witch? is for a younger audience than I generally read, but I loved it all the same. Nothing by Eva Ibbotson has ever disappointed me. She is entertaining, quirky, creative and witty. Which Witch? is no exception.
Arriman the Awful (the feared wizard of the North) has decided he needs to marry and produce an heir to take over as wizard for him when he is gone. And who else could a wizard possibly marry but a witch? But he doesn’t want just any witch, he wants a local one. And a powerful one. And a dark one.
There proceeds a contest between all the local witches to win his hand in marriage, wherein each witch must perform a piece of her darkest magic to be judged by Arriman himself and two others. There are witches with warts, a witch who can’t seem to stop turning herself into a coffee table, a white witch around whom flowers tend to spring up whenever she attempts black magic, and an evil enchantress. And each is determined she will be Arriman’s wife.
I read a review of this book before I read it myself, which showed some disappointment in Ibbotson’s lack of character depth and development. I myself find that it takes all kinds of books to make the world go ‘round. And with a children’s book that is meant, obviously, for pure entertainment (which it most definitely succeeds at!), I don’t honestly think character development is all that important. And while I agree that Ibbotson doesn’t delve far below the surface of any of her characters, it proves in the end to not be very important. This book is charming and hilarious (I frightened my husband several times by laughing out loud in bed one night) and thoroughly enjoyable to read. If for some reason you happen to have a rat phobia, I would steer clear of the chapter in which the enchantress works her spell – yikes!
The humor of the characters and their reactions to things and the situations they find themselves in is 80% of what charmed me. Ibbotson’s writing in this respect calls to mind some of Joan Aiken’s works for children, perhaps most especially what my sister and I grew up calling the “Dido Twite” books (in actuality I believe they are called The Wolves Chronicles). As an aside, let me say here that if you haven’t read Joan Aiken – you definitely need to! I can’t imagine my childhood without her books for children.
Conclusion: I couldn’t recommend Which Witch? more. I’ve had it on my reading list for so long … I only regret I didn’t read it sooner! If you like Which Witch?, check out the list of other books you may like as well, below.
- The Castle in the Attic (Elizabeth Winthrop)
- Fairest (Gail Carson Levine)
- Pure Dead Magic (Debi Gliori)
- Howl’s Moving Castle (Diana Wynne Jones)
- The Secret of Platform 13 (Eva Ibbotson)
- Bewitching Season (Marissa Doyle)
- Twice Upon a Time (James Riley)
- The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (Joan Aiken)
- No Such Thing as Dragons (Philip Reeve)
- The Shakespeare Stealer (Gary L. Blackwood)
Posted on June 26, 2013, in books, fantasy, middle grade, Reviews, teen, wizard, young adult and tagged book review, children's book, eva ibbotson, juvenile, witch, wizard, young adult. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.