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The Ragwitch [Paperback]

Garth Nix
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug 2003

From the author of Abhorsen comes classic fantasy set in a world dominated by the Ragwitch, a being of sinister, destructive intent.

An ancient spirit wreaks death and destruction on the world that sought to cripple her powers.

“Julia turned around – and Paul skidded to a stop in shock. He felt like he’d been winded, struck so hard he couldn’t breathe at all. For the person in front of him wasn’t Julia at all, but a hideous mixture of girl and doll: half flesh, half cloth, and the eyes and face had nothing of Julia left at all, only the evil features of the doll.”

When Julia finds the ugly doll in the strange ball of feathers on the beach, Paul instinctively knows that his sister has meddled with something that is going to cause trouble. But already it’s too late – the power behind the doll already has his sister in its thrall and, later that night, the Ragwitch claims Julia for its own.

Fighting against his natural urge to run from this hideous being, Paul is drawn into the creature’s own world. Can he save his sister – or even himself?

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1st Eos Ed edition (Aug 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060508078
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060508074
  • Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 10.9 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,379,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Garth Nix was born in 1963 and grew up in Canberra, Australia. After taking his degree in professional writing from the University of Canberra, he worked in a bookshop and then moved to Sydney. There he sank lower into the morass of the publishing industry, steadily devolving from sales rep through publicist until in 1991 he became a senior editor with a major multinational publisher. After a period travelling in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia in 1993, he left publishing to work as a marketing communications consultant . In 1999 he was lured back to the publishing world to become a part-time literary agent. He now lives in Sydney, a five-minute walk from Coogee Beach, with his wife Anna, son Thomas, and lots of books.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Giving young readers a tantalising taste of the imagination unleashed in books to come, The Ragwitch is Garth Nix’s first novel, dating from 1990, and a book that is only now making its deserved first appearance in the UK. Nix’s immense reputation as a fantasy writer has been subsequently built on the success of books such as Sabriel and Lirael from his Old Kingdom trilogy, and Mister Monday and Grim Tuesday, early episodes of the Keys to the Kingdom sequence, but his debut, nevertheless, remains a readable and enjoyable adventure.

The story concerns a brother and sister, Paul and Julia, who discover a feather-covered ragdoll in a large nest on an Aboriginal midden heap besides an Australian beach. At breakneck speed, the plot has Julia possessed by the ragdoll, who is revealed as a powerful witch, and then the pair are transported through magic into the Ragwitch’s own alternate kingdom. Paul, not brave by nature, instinctively follows them in order to save his sister.

While the Ragwitch tries to regain control of her old world, with Julia trapped inside her and giving her form, Paul is lost and at the behest of a host of strange creatures in a nearby forest. His task, in order to save his sibling and defeat the evil that has overtaken her, involves finding four talismans, representing Earth, Air, Fire and Water, so that he can call upon Wild Magic to do so.

All the signs were there that with The Ragwitch, Nix was at the exciting beginning of his storytelling abilities with its glorious cast of quirky characters and weird and wonderful new monsters. This earlier work is not as crisply executed, nor as boldly original, as later efforts but it remains a worthwhile encounter and is an illuminating taste of what was to come from this author.

(Age 10 and over) --John McLay --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


Praise for Garth Nix

“[Garth Nix is] the coolest read in the playground.” Amanda Craig

"Sabriel is a winner, a fantasy that reads like realism. Here is a world with the same solidity and four-dimensional authority as our own, created with invention, clarity and intellience." Philip Pullman

“I think Garth Nix has created a really remarkable and persuasive wold, and done it in the grand style of high fantasy and heroic romance, with some wonderful twists and turns. His Sabriel is a heroine truly worthy of that role.” Lloyd Alexander

“By turns rousing, charming and slyly funny, Sabriel is an engaging tale that slays sexual stereotypes along with its monsters.” San Francisco Chronicle

“What makes LIRAEL a delight is the magic that Nix brings to his story and to his characters. It is filled with twists and turns, playful inventiveness and dark magic, and is sure to satisfy his many readers.” Locus

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
COME ON, PAUL!" shrieked Julia as she ran down the dune, the sand sliding away under her bare feet. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
It has been well documented that this isn't one of Nix’s later and more successful novels so I won’t delve too deeply into that, although suffice to say Sabriel or Mr Monday – this isn't… What it is however is a novel of no small amount of skill and patience, the story line is inventive and likable, its just the execution that is a bit lacking.
It is almost unfortunate the Garth Nix is as successful as he is as any of his early work is bound to compared to his massively successful later works. I am a huge fan of said later works and in turn a huge fan of Nix so that is how I base my review.
The story is focuses around Julia and her brother Paul. Julia is the more adventurous of the two siblings and one day when playing on the beach she comes across a rag dull buried mysteriously in the sand, Paul wants nothing to do with it but Julia is entranced, for this doll is no ordinary one and consumes Julia entirely. For this is the Ragwitch, previously the evil North Queen of a far off distant world. Paul manages to force himself through to the other world along with the Ragwitch but how can he do anything to stop such a fearsome creature?
Meeting guides along the way both Paul and the now consumed Julia begin to fight and find inner strength they never knew they had. Is this enough though?
This book really shows the threads that have made Garth Nix such a talented author – the execution is lacking, for example the ending feels rushed, threads of storyline are untold and characters can be a little wooden. For all this though it is a decent novel, just don't compare it to his later works.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars breathtaking book 28 July 2005
I found this book when browsing for a good read on amazon, and decided to buy it because of a good sypnosis and the good reputation of garth nix's other books. This book will blow you away as it keeps the reader guessing as the plot becomes thicker and a higher tempo. This book will not fail to entertain with all its twists and turns. Prepare to be pulled into a world of magic,adventure and the power of love and family. 5 stars, a must read.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not the Usual Garth Nix 3 Oct 2005
The Ragwitch definately isn't the 'regular' Garth Nix. It seems to be rather weird, rather in the wrong way (the Keys of the Kingdom series is totally weird and out of the box, but it is interesting and the characters are deep). An unlikely hero has to save her sister, who is held captive by an evil rag doll. The plot just seems a little childish and a little over fantasy-ish, instead of the mix of fantasy and Realism (see the Old Kingdom series). The book starts off fast enough, rushing you into the action, but once the first 3 chapters or so are read, the whole book seems to slow down. Considerably.
The Ragwitch was, however, Garth Nix's first attept at writing a full length novel, and kudos should be given, but 'the ragwitch' does not have the maturity and interesting parts (seen in the old kingdom trilogy, most easily seen in Lirael). The whole book seems rather rushed and does not have the usual interesting characters and quests. The entire story is too straightfoward, no twists, no turns, no crazy and weird feats (i.e. Grim Tuesday!) From the moment you realise the main character is going to try rescue his sister, you KNOW that he will succeed. I mean, How else could the book end?
The Old kingdom series (sabriel, lirael, abhorsen), the keys of the kingdom series (mister monday, grim tuesday, Drowned wednesday and Sir Thursday) all surpass the ragwith in interest, characters, and Storyline/plot, etc.
Get those before you get this (if you still want to).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Captivating but with some rough edges 14 Aug 2006
When the rag doll the brother and sister find on the beach turns out to be a trapped witch who possesses Julia in order to gain a new body, Paul finds himself travelling through a strange world in an attempt to collect the magic he needs to save his sister and journey home. Meanwhile Julia, trapped inside the Ragwitch's mind, goes on a journey of her own: there are others trapped with her, and together they search for a way to destroy the Ragwitch from within - before she can conquer and destroy a world.

This book was one of Garth Nix's earliest - and it shows. The writing is rather clumsy, and the story feels very rushed - especially in the beginning. One small niggle that another reviewer has also mentioned was the names: all too often they do sound like made-up names pretending to be Welsh, and are therefore often unpronounceable (although, in all fairness, I'm not Welsh and despair of ever pronouncing certain names in various Arthurian trilogys like Bernard Cornwell's so for all I know they aren't made up... but I suspect they are).

Still, I could hardly put it down: I loved the Elementals, and Julia's story was great fun. When you are possessed, you don't usually have any kind of freedom left - I just loved the idea that she could roam more or less freely through her captors thoughts and memories. Paul's slow change of attitude from desperate to return home with Julia to wanting to destroy the Ragwitch and save the world - and the friends - he has come to know was one of the best bits: nicely written and totally believeable.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific
I have read and re-read this book many times over the past 10 years or more and did not suddenly get the urge to review it. However, my shock at seeing it sitting at 3. Read more
Published 23 months ago by L. Burgoyne
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked it a lot...
I'm a big fan of Garth Nix's work - I've read a good 80% of his stories. In the past I'd steered clear of The Ragwitch because I'd heard it wasn't as good as his later work. Read more
Published on 20 Nov 2011 by JulieGirl
1.0 out of 5 stars terrible
Any book who has evil characters called "The Meepers" cannot be taken seriously. As soon as I read the word Meepers I was reminded of Beaker from the muppets making meeping sounds. Read more
Published on 20 Jun 2011 by CiscoBear
4.0 out of 5 stars hmmmmm
not for older readers definately for younger readers still a good story. may be a little childish for young adults
Published on 15 Aug 2008 by Iorek
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book well worth your money
I really enjoyed this book and it's well worth buying, at the beginning of the book Julia finds a doll, which is the Rag Witch, on top of a midden. Read more
Published on 22 May 2007 by Derob Ecnirp
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, not great, but good...
The Ragwitch is not Nix's finest work and is possibly one of his least accessible pieces of writing... Read more
Published on 10 April 2007 by Nemo Cuts
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
As with most of Garth Nix's novels, the Ragwitch has a slow beginning, and, as with Mister Monday, the first in Nix's Keys To The Kingdom Series, I feel that at the beginning, the... Read more
Published on 3 Jan 2007 by Mr Pinky
1.0 out of 5 stars Utter Trash
This book is unredeemable, and seems only to have served as an outlet for Nix as he loses interest in his 'keys to the kindom' series, which is going rapidly downhill. Read more
Published on 1 Oct 2006 by Mr. D. J. Read
2.0 out of 5 stars Extruded Fantasy Product
I've recently found out that this was an early novel of Nix's, which means that I can forgive a lot of the sins I'm about to recount... Read more
Published on 11 Aug 2006 by Bookseller
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book but Different
I read this book last year and i thought it was ok. In my opinion i don't think it is as good as the author's other series Keys To The Kingdom. Read more
Published on 17 May 2006 by Micke
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