Earwig and the Witch by Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Jones is the queen of fantasy.  She was writing the fabulous Chrestomanci series, about orphans, witches and magic long before J. K. Rowling and Harry Potter came along.  She has written lots of books, including the Chrestomanci series and Howl’s Moving CastleEarwig and the Witch is the magical book that she wrote before she died earlier this year.

Earwig is a an orphan girl who lives at St Morwald’s Home for Children with her friend Custard.  Earwig is quite happy living here and she says that “anyone who chose me would have to be very unusual.”  She is a pretty unusual child but she seems to be able to make anyone do anything that she wants, like cooking her favourite food or playing hide and seek in the dark.  One day a very strange couple come to the orphanage looking to adopt a child.  The woman has two different coloured eyes and a raggety look to her face, and the man is very tall and looks like he has horns on his head.  They adopt Earwig, but she discovers that the woman is a witch and only wants her as a slave to help her with her spells.  Earwig is trapped in the house and wants nothing more than to go back to the orphanage with her friends.  Will she be able to outwit the witch and escape?  And who or what is the mysterious man with the horns?

Earwig and the Witch is a funny story about a feisty girl trying to fit into her new family.  All the characters are quite strange and I especially liked Thomas the cat.  The cover is very cool and really draws you in, with the spiderwebs and spiders crawling all over it.  Marion Lindsay’s illustrations are spectacularly spooky and I love the little pictures of crows or spiders on each page.  The only thing I didn’t like about this book was that it ended so suddenly.  I would have liked to know more about her life in the house.  Earwig and the Witch is perfect for those girls who don’t like fairies, but who still like a bit of magic.

Recommended for 7+     7 out of 10

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Filed under authors, books, children, children's fiction, fantasy

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