Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones
originally published 1982
Bullseye/Knopf, 1st printing, 1988
Genre: Fantasy, young adult, children’s lit, juvenalia
Synopsis & Review: Strange things are happening at Larwood House, a boarding school for witch orphans and other troublesome children. The day before Halloween, Mr Crossley receives an anonymous note: SOMEONE IN THIS CLASS IS A WITCH. The problem is, anyone in 6B–excepting perhaps model students Theresa Mullet and Simon Silverson–could be a witch. There’s the odd girl out, dumpy Nan Pilgrim, and loner Brian Wentworth, as well as the bad Dan Smith and the nasty Charles Morgan. And in these troubled times, Mr Crossley would like nothing more than to avoid the notice of the inquisitors. After all, witchcraft has been illegal in England for nearly four centuries now, since the first Witchcraft Edict of 1612, but the bonfires still burn, and anyone caught helping a witch will be sent to prison. It doesn’t stop with the note, either.
When flocks of birds interrupt 6B’s music class, and every pair of shoes in the entire school is summoned to the quadrangle suddenly overnight, even the students know there’s a witch about. Suspicion falls upon Nan once her classmates find out she’s been named after–and is a descendant of–the Archwitch Dulcinea, and the rest of the girls begin tormenting her. At the same time, Charles begins to suspect that he just might be the witch, but it soon becomes evident that there’s too much magic around for just one witch. When Brian Wentworth disappears, suspicion falls upon the with–whomever it may be–and inquisitors are called in. Fearing for her life, Nan enlists the help of a classmate, and soon what’s left of the Witches’ Underground is involved, too. Will everyone at Larwood House be tortured and imprisoned? Or will a powerful spell save 6B?
Witch Week was a birthday present for me when I was nine or ten, and since then, I always read it during Witch Week as a celebration of my birthday (1 November). I could read it any time of the year, though, because it’s just enchanting. (WORDPLAY!) Actually, it’s kind of shocking that I have never read anything else by Diana Wynne Jones. I’ll go ahead and blame the Hawaii State Library System for that grievous error (though I do see that they have plenty of her work now). Read the rest of this entry »