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Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson
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Which Witch? (original 1979; edition 2009)

by Eva Ibbotson

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1,173146,877 (3.85)53
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Title:Which Witch?
Authors:Eva Ibbotson
Info:MacMillan UK (2009), Paperback, 208 pages
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Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson (1979)

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English (13)  French (1)  All languages (14)
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
This is one of my all time favourite books, both as a young reader, a teenager and as an adult, I think I must have read it at least 50 times over the years. It was a regular check out for me while at school from the library but, bizarrely, I never owned my own copy.

The book focusses on the white which Belladonna, who is secretly in love with the dark and broodingly handsome Arriman the Awful, the most feared and fierce wizard of the North. He had decided he must marry as he needs an heir to pass on his wizardly crown as he's getting fed up of all the smiting and blighting.
He decides to hold a competition at which the wickedest blackest witches will perform their greatest spell and the one which is the most evil will win. Poor Belladonna wants nothing more than to be bad, but she's such a good witch that even when she tries to be bad the opposite happens.
Without going into details, the plot also involves an orphan named Terrance and his pet worm, a three headed sea lion who Arriman has had looking for his successor for years without any joy (hence the decision to marry and hold a competition to find himself a wife), an elderly witch who randomly turns into a coffee table, the seductive Madame Olympia, and a whole host of other amusing and horrible characters.

With a few nice twists added to the plot, the reader is drawn headlong into an amusing tale which draws to a satisfactory conclusion without ever stinting on the story to get there. ( )
  Cadiva | Apr 1, 2015 |
This is one of my all time favourite books, both as a young reader, a teenager and as an adult, I think I must have read it at least 50 times over the years. It was a regular check out for me while at school from the library but, bizarrely, I never owned my own copy.

The book focusses on the white which Belladonna, who is secretly in love with the dark and broodingly handsome Arriman the Awful, the most feared and fierce wizard of the North. He had decided he must marry as he needs an heir to pass on his wizardly crown as he's getting fed up of all the smiting and blighting.
He decides to hold a competition at which the wickedest blackest witches will perform their greatest spell and the one which is the most evil will win. Poor Belladonna wants nothing more than to be bad, but she's such a good witch that even when she tries to be bad the opposite happens.
Without going into details, the plot also involves an orphan named Terrance and his pet worm, a three headed sea lion who Arriman has had looking for his successor for years without any joy (hence the decision to marry and hold a competition to find himself a wife), an elderly witch who randomly turns into a coffee table, the seductive Madame Olympia, and a whole host of other amusing and horrible characters.

With a few nice twists added to the plot, the reader is drawn headlong into an amusing tale which draws to a satisfactory conclusion without ever stinting on the story to get there. ( )
  Cadiva | Apr 1, 2015 |
Re reading is not among my inclinations or priorities. However, I had to make an exception for Which Witch?. I read it first about 20 years ago, and I liked it so much that I didn't forget the small details for a long time. But recently I have had the urge to revisit past favorites. That's why I broke my habits and read this book again.

The author's style is ebullient and twisty. Her imagination was spot on. She knew, by instinct, what was appealing and whimsical. The book is not of the fantasy genre. The world is real. And though there are magical people in it, there are no portals to other dominions. The magical creatures and wizards and what have yous keep to themselves, mostly. They don't look for a fight, or a battlefield to settle grievances. There is little world building, which is what attracted me towards this delightful and slim and lean book. There is no bloating, no extra filler. It's rare to find a quick and memorable read. Which witch? is definitely a work that manages to combine these two ascriptions.

I managed to find one plot hole here, about the oldest witch being eligible for the contest. And I thought Arriman's volte face towards Sir Simon unlikely. He, who never showed signs of guile, manages to come up with a plan out of the blue. These are minor nitpicks. This is an under appreciated book, both by children and adults. Among all quick reads, this book has more substance than most. It has fallen into semi anonymity. But I have the feeling it will never go out of print, as there always will be people to pass on the fact that the book is a keeper. ( )
  Jiraiya | Jan 29, 2015 |
I loved this book so much that I must have re-read it at least eight times. Eva Ibbotson's style was hilarious and attractive, and the story appealed to me at the age at which I read it. ( )
  RhiannonAgnes | Mar 9, 2014 |
Predictable and long winded. I got bored with it in a hurry but the kids enjoyed it. ( )
  Ginerbia | Feb 14, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eva Ibbotsonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Heikkinen, EevaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Large, AnnabelIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Arriman the Awful, feared Great Wizard of the North, has decided to marry, because he must sire a child to carry on his tradition of Loathing Light and Blighting the Beautiful. But his wife must be a witch of the darkest powers... A sorcery competition among the witches of Todcaster is held to discover which witch is the most potent and fiendish. The competition begins, and each witch it turn pulls out of the cauldron her especially wicked spell. But some go terribly, horribly wrong. Glamorous Madame Olympia conjures up a thousand plague-bearing rats! Belladonna, the white witch, desperately wants to be a wicked enchantress, but her magic produces flowers instead of snakes. How can she become more devilish than all the other witches?
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0141304278, Paperback)

Arriman the Awful, Loather of Light and Wizard of the North, needs a wife. How else can he have a wizard baby to carry on the family tradition of blighting and smiting, blasting and wuthering? The problem is, wizards can only marry one kind of person--a witch. Arriman dreads the thought. "A great black crone with warts and blisters in unmentionable places from crashing about on her broom! You want me to sit opposite one of those every morning eating my cornflakes?" But a witch it must be, so Arriman holds a contest to decide which witch. The local witches are all atwitter over what spell they'll perform for the contest--all except Belladonna, who is, to her great shame, a white witch. She looks rather like the girl on the Clairol Herbal Essence bottle, with a sweet face and flowing blonde hair. "There was usually something in Belladonna's hair: A fledgling blackbird parked there by its mother while she went to hunt for worms, a baby squirrel wanting somewhere safe to eat its hazel nuts, or a butterfly who thought she was a lily or a rose."

Black spells are cast, enchantments are woven, and even Belladonna manages to do a little damage in this wonderfully clever 1979 book by Eva Ibbotson (of The Secret of Platform 13). Young readers will delight in the way Ibbotson glories in the ghoulish and the gory--and in her engaging characters who are kindly and fiendish all at once. Which Witch (finally reissued in the United States) begs to be read aloud, with before-bed-length chapters and lots of opportunities for funny voices. (Ages 9 and older) --Claire Dederer

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:10 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Deciding that he must sire a child to carry on his tradition of Loathing Light and Blighting the Beautiful, the Great Wizard Arriman announces a competition among the witches of Todcaster, one of whom will marry him.

(summary from another edition)

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