The Witches (2007) by Ronald Dahl
This award-winning story is another whimsical tale with a twist of horror and humor. A funny, imaginative story with fast paced action, gory details and bone chilling suspense. The descriptions are both scary and comical at the same time, detailed and hair rising.
It is a child’s reprisal over those typical childhood fears. A reference to the child’s psyche where the best way to deal with those fears is to conquer them.
Luke is a smart seven year old boy with lots of wits! And he will need all the wits he has for this adventure. He goes to live with his grandmother in England after his parents tragic death, and here he has to learn to deal with evil witches who are planning to kill all the children of England.
His grandmother is rather a special character, a clever old lady with an expert knowledge on witches. She teaches Luke to recognize them despite their crafty disguises.
For the grand witch and her associate witches are for real, they hide behind ordinary appearances, disguised in ordinary clothes, live in ordinary houses and have ordinary jobs. In reality they are completely bald with no toes and broad feet and have curved fingernails hidden by gloves.
They wear wigs over their bald heads but can be spotted while scratching their itchy scalps. They hobble about in fashionable shoes into which they have squeezed their ugly feet.
These are the meanest, nastiest witches of England who can smell children out even when they cannot see them
So when Luke moves in with his grandma she warns him against the existence of these beings, and all runs smoothly until she falls ill and they move to a seaside resort due to her frail health.
At this same resort the witches are holding their Annual Witches Convention, so Luke is faced with the evil enemy who will drag him through events full of excitement and mystery.
Here he also meets Bruno a podgy boy who will be his partner during this breath taking adventure. Together they try to uncover the reason the witches are meeting, and they soon discover why at their own expense!
The grand witch has prepared a potion that will turn all the children of England into mice. The potion is cleverly concealed in a piece of chocolate to entice children to eat it.
Unfortunately for Bruno he becomes the test dummy, as he is craftily lured to the banquet hall where the witches are assembled and is fed a whole bar of poisonous chocolate. No sooner has he bitten into it that he turns into a tiny mouse.
Luke is faced with this horrific scene, for he is hiding behind the stage watching. While the witches suddenly start chasing Bruno the mouse to catch and kill him, one accidentally stumbles upon Luke hiding.
They frantically try grabbing Luke instead, to make sure he does not run away with their secret plot but Luke and Bruno ‘the mouse’ manage to get away.
From then on throughout the book, the two constantly come at a hairs length of being caught, as the witches invent stratagems to get them out of their hiding.
One witch actually pushes a baby in a stroller down a cliff so that Luke will come out into the open and save the baby.
Luke reveals the witches wicked plot to his grandma, confirming her suspicions on the strange ladies of the resort. Together they draw up a clever plan to destroy the witches and keep them from hurting the children of England.
Luke then steals some of the magical potion with the intention to add it to the witches’ watercress soup on the convention’s closing dinner. Bruno the mouse’s help, then scuttles unnoticed into the restaurant’s kitchen to add the potion in the soup.
An extraordinary ending unfolds as their scheme works out, turning all the witches into mice that scuttle all around the dining room.
From the kitchen the staff come running to try and trap and destroy the ugly rodents. Luke has conquered the evil element!
This story is an excellent tale about a boy who feels defeated because of the loss of his parents, but is able to regain strength through his grandma, the representation of Good.