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3.8 out of 5 stars25
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 1 February 2006
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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on 14 August 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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on 11 August 2006
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... not that it's going to stop me listing them.

I read this book myself, as well as giving it to my cousin's boys, aged 13 and 14. I found the main character wet and unlikeable. My nephews found him really patronising. He gets a little better as he goes through the book but I felt there was a bit too much sobbing for comfort. It might be a realistic response, but if my lads are anything to go by it's not the sort of thing that playstation generation kids (even quite intellient ones who preffer books to tv) want to read. If memory serves me, I don't think it's the sort of thing I would have wanted to read either. It's been a long time though.

One of the things that I like about Nix is that he gets into the action quickly, but I have to admit this one could have used a couple of extra chapters to let us settle into things. It felt arbitrary and rushed.

The setting was another thing that really galled me. I'm used to getting rich settings with a little depth but the Ragwitch's setting just made me think of a low budget 80s fantasy film, which could have been endearing, but the 12 foot rag doll and explanation for how she got that way just really spoiled it for me. Also the Celticness irritated me. Charles DeLint can't do it and neither can anyone else. Gratuitous Celticness is SAD. Making your world sound fantastical by turning it into a Welsh A-Z went out with the dinousaurs.

The later parts of the book were quite good, but my ire returned in force when I read the last half a page. I hate the old "I will smooth your memories clean of these terrible events" chesnut never fails to make me spit broken glass. The lads didn't comment on that one. I'm not sure they read that far.
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on 3 October 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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on 8 March 2006
The Ragwitch was a magical story. It captured my interest from the start and was thrilling to the very end. It moved seamlessly between the viewpoints of Paul and his sister, Julia and time after time the decisions they made surpised me. There was a twist to this magical tale but you'll have to read it to find out!!
Garth Nix is undoubtably a brilliant writer and his descriptions brought the book to life. However, the trilogy that introduced me to Garth Nix - Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen - were distinctly better.
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on 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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on 10 April 2007
The Ragwitch is not Nix's finest work and is possibly one of his least accessible pieces of writing...the story is not straightforward and it is sometime possible to get lost in some of the detail (especially around the Ragwitch's memories and how the characters interact with these)...

However, overlooking it's flaws though the Ragwitch is still an enjoyable read and worth a look for fans of Nix's other work. The book has a very Harry Potter/Lord of The Rings feel to it and it holds its own in the fantasy genre. Not necessarily recommended for the youngest of readers though due to its complex nature...

And one other point to note this was Nix's first book (not something that has been written while continuing with his The Key's to the Kingdom series) - as such it is a slightly unpolished number but shows an early platform from which the rest of his work followed.
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on 22 May 2007
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. The Rag Witch takes Julia into her mind, so Julia can see and hear but not do anything. The doll then goes into a different world but Paul (Julia's brother) follows them to try and save Julia.

Don't worry it's a lot better than I make it sound... and a lot longer.
I have to admit that Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series/Abhorsen series is a much better read then the Ragwitch but if you already have the Old Kingdom series then it's worth getting this book as it is quite a diffrent style.... and cheaper.
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on 4 May 2012
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 3.5 with some pretty scathing reviews gave me the impetus to level the playing field a little.
While I agree that the book is different from others Nix has written, I really love it. I think the characters are likeable - perhaps not as deep as those in other books, but as they are only 10 I'm not sure they need to be. The world is very creative and the idea that using Celtic names is 'so last year' is petty and stupid. I have always found dolls incredibly creepy so the villain is suitably chilling to me and her minions are pretty scary and imaginative, though again perhaps not as detailed as characters in later books. I dont think for the majority of people, having a minor villain that makes a noise similar to a weird, unknown tv character would ruin any book. I love the general storyline and the plot moves along at a good speed, keeping you enthralled. I always manage to read the book in a couple of days because even when I know what is going to happen it is such a page-turner. The book does remind me enormously of Lloyd Alexander, whom I know to be a favourite of Nix, no doubt leading to some of the Celtic imagery and names. I absolutely love Alexander, though, so was more than happy to be reminded of him....
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on 3 January 2007
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 main character seems quite gormless. Stick with it though as it soon progresses into a fine story. It may not be up to Garth Nix's usual standard, but it's close enough to be a pretty good book. It's a fine adventure and an enjoyable read.
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