After reading Eva Ibbotson’s wholly delightful historical romance The Countess Below Stairs, I thought it was time that I explored the children’s tales for which she is so famous. Justly, as it turns out — because Which Witch? is just a whole lot of buoyant silly wonderment.
In this world, there is dark magic and there is light, and the ancient and venerable — but very good looking — dark wizard Arriman the Aweful, frustrated by the tardiness of the prophesied heir to his throne, decides to take a wife from among the worst witches in the land. Clearly, he must procreate!
Competition is joined, and hags from across the area attempt to prove themselves worthy of this most desirable of life partners. Among them is the beautiful Belladonna, whose greatest shame is that she seems to be a good witch who makes flowers bloom rather than decay, and can heal rather than curse, but she loves Arriman to distraction (for no clear reason) and so is determined to win his hand, if not his heart.
Helping her is an orphan boy, a worm and Arriman’s much-smitten assistant, while her biggest rival has a necklace made of human teeth and also there is a ghost who was formerly fond of murdering his wives on the slightest pretext, or none at all. This is a book for kids, but it doesn’t always act like one, and has no compunction about throwing in some very Dark concepts, along with all the humour and silliness, of which there is much.
This is just a really comical, entertaining romp, not just for kids but for anyone with a bent toward sly wit and utter ridiculousness. I am now very much looking forward to diving into the other Ibbotson kids’ books I have held onto for so, so long. Can’t wait to see what wackiness I encounter next.
TBR DAY 197: Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson
GENRE: Children’s Fiction
TIME ON THE TBR: 15 years.
PURCHASED FROM: Op shop.