Still on my short bookshelf, I have to confess that we’re going to have to come back to a few books. Four, as a matter of fact. Three are Neil Gaiman books given to me by an ex-boyfriend that I’ve yet to read, one James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small, which my mother got me years and years ago for a birthday and I honestly don’t recall a word of. They’re on my list, and I’ll return to them as soon as possible.
Instead, we’re moving on to yet another one of my childhood favorites, Eva Ibbotsen’s Which Witch?
Yes, I was a very predictable child. I liked magic stories. It probably didn’t hurt when Harry Potter came along. We’ll come to those books eventually, but let’s focus on this one.
This book was released in 1979, which in my mind makes it a children’s classic, and if I ever have children I’m passing this gem on.
The main character is a white witch, Belladonna, who lives in a world where magic is supposed to be dark. She wants to marry Arriman the Awful, who is looking for a wife in his hometown in order to fulfill a prophecy he thinks refers to a son he doesn’t yet have. She’s rescued a boy named Terence from an awful orphanage and he agrees to help her win the hand of this dark sorcerer. How? The impossibly difficult task of necromancy.
To top it off, they’ve got to battle the desires of an evil enchantress who is intent on winning, and the fact that Belladonna’s supposed familiar goes missing just before the competition.
I won’t say that there are unpredictable twists and turns, because as an adult it is all very obvious. But the wonderful thing about well-written children’s books is that they’re not obvious to the children, and even when they are obvious to adults they’re still a riveting joy to read. This is definitely one of those books. It’s a bit silly, but in an incredibly charming way. The characters are exaggerated just enough to be comical, but not so much that it’s painful to read.
This is one of the few books from my childhood that I would read over and over and over again without pause if I could. I would recommend it to literally every child at the right reading level, and if they weren’t a the right reading level I’d read it to any child who would sit still long enough.
I think the most charming thing about this story is that it’s uplifting, and even though it uses some familiar tropes it uses them as pieces of a larger story, not as the primary story in and of itself (which is something I’ll say in another post, coming once I finally get it back from my sister…. Probably the favorite book of my entire childhood).
So if you haven’t come across this book, I really do encourage you to check it out. I’d love to get thoughts of other readers of it! It’s always a good day to reminisce about childhood favorites.