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Ragwitch by Garth Nix

Ragwitch (original 1990; edition 2005)

by Garth Nix

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6901521,546 (3.36)36
When his sister Julia falls under the spell of the evil Ragwitch and her minions, Paul must journey across time to a distant dimension and rally the forces of good to rescue Julia and save the magical kingdom of Yendre.
Authors:Garth Nix
Info:HARPER COLL CHILDREN (2005), Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Ragwitch by Garth Nix (1990)



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English (14)  Swedish (1)  All languages (15)
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
It's pretty rare that a young adult novel can actually scare me, but the beginning of this book deals with possession and Nix really weaves a scary description of what's going on and how. It's very sinister and I loved feeling the hairs on the back of my neck stand up a little bit and that little twinge of paranoia that made me want to look behind me, even though I've already read this book at least a couple of times now. Never fails!

The characters in this book are all rich and interesting and feel as though they come to life, as though you might know people like some of them, and you're glad that most of them exist within the story for our young heroes. But, I think my favorite characters, at least as far as portrayal goes, are the ones that you'd expect to be the most fleshed out anyway. Julia and Paul. They're younger than most kids in young adult novels are, not even quite 12 yet it seems. I don't remember if it was actually mentioned anywhere in the book how old they are, but one character was forced to guesstimate Paul's age and he put Paul at 11 at the oldest.

I like that Nix portrays both kids as just that. Kids. They're young and naive and used to the comforts of home, taken out of their elements and dropped into new and impossible situations in a strange world without any of the conveniences they're used to. They handle it probably better than a lot of us would've handled something like that, certainly better than I think I would have, but it isn't without complaint. I think a lot of people would ordinarily be frustrated with Paul, most of all, because he whines and he more than once wishes that he could just give up his quest and go home even if that means leaving his sister, but ultimately he knows he can't bring himself to do such a thing because the entire reason he's here is to save her.

Paul being the one we follow throughout most of the beginning of the book (and the one who gets the majority of the romping-around adventure) is interesting and I enjoyed it quite a bit because it was made very apparently just how far out of his element and depth he was, and just how scared he was. He's not used to being the hero, Julia is the adventurous and brave one, she's the leader, he's the one who follows and often has to come to his defense when her friends tease him. She's the one with the big ideas and the follow-through. But here, Paul has to be the leader. He has to be the one to make the decisions and be adventurous and many times he asks himself what Julia would do if she were here instead of him. Many times, he wishes that their roles were reversed and she were the one on this quest to save him from the Ragwitch instead, because at least then he would know that someone who knows what they're doing and who he can depend on to get it done would be in charge.

But, Paul does rise to the challenge, despite his own misgivings and issues of self-confidence, and somewhere along the line his goal changes. He's not just here to save Julia, anymore, although that's still a main goal, but he knows that he can't leave all of the new friends he's made who help him in the lurch either. Even if he could just go home, even if he could snap his fingers and both he and Julia would be at home, safe and sound, he can't leave his friends to deal with the Ragwitch alone.

It was good to see Paul's character development throughout the entire book, and it was good to see the moment when he realized himself that his goals had shifted a bit. To see how brave he was when even he didn't think he could be and had no idea what he was doing.

With Julia, I liked that we got to see that even though she was the one that Paul thought was the fearless adventurer who always knew what to do...she really wasn't. She was adventurous, yes, and stubborn and ready to resist the Ragwitch, but she was also just a kid herself and she was scared too, and uncertain, and we got to see that and feel that right along with her.

Most of the supporting characters were adults, and I liked that each of them realized that Paul and Julia were just children and thrust into situations that were really not meant for kids. I don't feel as though they were babied, because the situation called for Julia and Paul to have to do things and make decisions that no kids should have to and they were allowed to, but Nix never really lets you forget just how young Paul and Julia really were. And as such, I didn't feel any of the same annoyance that I might have felt with someone in the middle or late teens or early adulthood with the same attitudes as these kids had.

I find this to be fresh and interesting, and to really put the danger that the characters are into stark relief. It makes things feel more dangerous and you can really feel the stakes. And it makes the villains and the dangers and the pitfalls, which might otherwise have seemed silly if given to characters who are older, feel a lot scarier and bigger. I think it puts things into a perspective that you wouldn't get if the main characters were older.

I also really liked that Julia had two women helping her after awhile. I liked the character of Mirran, and I'm glad that we got to know him, but I don't think anything would've felt the same if we hadn't had Lyssa and Anhyvar.

The character of Tanboule was perhaps a particular favorite, and I have to wonder how and Julia might've interacted had they had the chance to meet. But, I loved his interactions with Paul, and later also with Quigin, and I loved his outlook. I wish we'd gotten more about his backstory, though, just because I'm so interested in his character and the hints and tidbits we did get to find out about him left me wondering what the whole story behind that was. Then again, maybe Nix gave us all we need to know to figure that out on our own in full and I just am not smart enough to do it while everyone else who read the book did. That's possible! But, I'd sure be down to read an entire book about him.

I absolutely would reread this book, yet again, and probably will at some point. I have thoroughly enjoyed this book and I think just about anybody who reads it will, too. Anyone who likes young adult fiction should enjoy this book, I think. Even if whiny characters are the bane of your existence, I think that in this case you will find yourself making a happy exception for Paul. ( )
  madam_razz | Feb 27, 2018 |
No rating for this book, since I didn't finish it.
I started reading it, but it didn't really keep my attention. Started reading other books in between.
When I got back to it, I still couldn't get into it and found thatbit didn't interest me.
Do today I decided to close the book, put it aside and not try again.
  BoekenTrol71 | Feb 24, 2017 |
Two Australian children accidentally free an ancient evil, and are sucked into the magical world she came from. A little young and too travelogue-y for my taste, but the magic is (as always with Nix) fantastically inventive and oftentimes disturbing. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
Paul and Julia are siblings on vacation at the beach when they run across a doll that captures Julia before going to another world. Paul follows after her and works to save her in this fast paced intermediate fantasy novel. The quest in the story doesn't possess any great deviations from the norm but Nix's compelling characters and moments of humor make it a charming read. For a reader who wants more of Nix after The Abhorsen Chronicles, this would be a good next choice as the world is complete and the story fascinating. ( )
  katekf | May 23, 2011 |
One of Garth Nix's more interesting novels. A YA fantasy with some pretty disturbing horror elements in it. A rather simple plot, but entertaining nonetheless. I would recommend this book to any Garth Nix fan. ( )
  tuckerfrye | Jul 10, 2010 |
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Voor Shabnaz, mijn familie en vrienden
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"Come on, Paul," shrieked Julia as she ran down the dune, the sand sliding away under her bare feet.
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