As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

October 19, 2011

WITCH WEEK, by Diana Wynne Jones, 1993

There are good witches and bad witches, but the law says that all witches must be burned at the stake. So when an anonymous note warns, "Someone in this class is a witch," the students in 6B are nervous -- especially the boy who's just discovered that he can cast spells and the girl who was named after the most famous witch of all. (Amazon)

Review by Kim Harris Thacker, writer, mommy, and Bookshop Talk Host

I love Diana Wynne Jones’s quirky wit! I think of it as “British wit,” because it’s shared by some of my favorite British writers: Diana, Terry Pratchett, J.K. Rowling, and Neil Gaiman. I’m hoping my British ancestry means I can tap into that wit at some point.

WITCH WEEK is one of the Chrestomanci novels, which means the character, Chrestomanci, shows up. And I do love Chrestomanci. He’s charming, to say the least. But WITCH WEEK stands very well on its own, too. The writing is positively delightful. It feels like a conversation rather than a reading. I love the setting (a slightly run-down boarding school for witch-orphans), and I love the variety of characters. Each character is fully realized, which is wildly tough to accomplish in a short middle grade novel. The reader dives right in and gets to know the witch-orphan characters by reading their journals in the first few pages of the book. I want to be best friends with Nan Pilgrim (what a great name for a witch!), and I think that I, like the unfortunate Miss Hodge, might have a bit of a crush (literary, of course) on kindly and harried Mr. Wentworth.

Try the Chrestomanci novels if you enjoy the Harry Potter books!

Market: middle grade fiction, magical realism/fantasy
Language: mild (the characters say “magic” and “magicking” as swear-words)
Sensuality: none
Violence: mild (some references to “bone-fires,” or witch-burnings
Mature Themes: witchcraft, witch-burnings (nothing comes across as scary)

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