Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Witch's Boy, by Kelly Barnhill

Kelly Barnhill came solidly onto my reading radar when this book was about to be released. The bits and blurbs I heard from other readers, eagerly anticipating it, and those annoying little banners that pop up on line, all succeeded. While waiting for my copy of the book to arrive, I sought out another book of hers, read it, and gave it a thumbs up. And I prepared to like  The Witch's Boy.  I was wrong about that, and gleeful to say so. I went beyond "like"; I was enchanted by the story, the world created, the writing, and the characters.

Barnhill has created a world where magic is alive. It's not just a tool or skill that someone can learn to use, but a real entity. It talks, cajoles, cackles, promises, prods, whines, whimpers. It is a force to be reckoned with, and it has been killed off over the years by people who try to steal or harness it. Magic entered our world with other beings, who, at the time of the story, have become standing stones, and have been such for ages. The tiny bit of magic that remains, is stored in a pot of the basement of a witch, in a poor, outlying village of a small, isolated kingdom.  And as the story unfolds, everything is about to be threatened.

As the story opens, the witch's twins, Tam and Ned, head out to do what young boys do so well: have adventures and make mischief. However, the raft they intended to ride the river to the sea sinks, and Tam dies. Ned barely survives, but the villagers become convinced that the wrong boy was saved; the clever one was the one who drowned. And across the world, a young girl is told by her dying mother,  "the wrong boy will save your life and you will save his. And the wolf..." In a world where magic roams, it's inevitable these two will come together. And of course, they fight for, not with, magic, for nothing less than to save the world.

Tags:  a-favorite-author, fantasy, ya-lit, will-look-for-more-by-this-author, didn-t-want-to-put-it-down, grandgirl-nonsparkly-fodder, great-cover, kids-of-most-ages, magic, magical, satisfying

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