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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 7 September 2006
I am currently reading this book to my children at bedtime, and it must be the most gripping book they have had so far! Unusually for them, they sit silently, listening and hanging on every word. I read just a few chapters a night and every night so far they have cried, "NOOOO! Not yet!! one more chapter...PLEASE just ONE more chapter!!".

The style in which the book is written is the key to it's success I believe. The book has been written as though it is a true story.

We have previously finished reading James & the giant peach, and although they enjoyed it, The Witches is most definitely more popular.

A truly great read. Well done Mr Dahl!
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on 11 July 2006
Are you at home right now? I hope so. Oh, you're not. You're in one of those internet cafes. Oh dear. Then - and I don't want to scare you - you're not safe. Not at all safe. Put down that sticky slab of chocolate cake and sneak a look at the person sitting beside you. Is it a lady? Oh it is.

Is she a witch?

Well you wouldnt know would you. I didn't before I read this book. And you MUST read this book: not just so that you're able to tell the difference between a witch and a regular kind old lady but because this is deliciously good fiction.

The Witches is a classic Dahl recipe in every sense: a simple and plausible premise, mixed with oodles of imagination, some super-scary baddies, a sprinkling of poignancy and morality, and a big dollop of dark-edged humor. This is Roald Dahl writing at his very best, at his haughtiest and naughtiest; and the effect is spellbinding.
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My son BEGGED to be able to listen to this. I was dubious - he IS only 5, but I went with it after a good talk about stories/fiction and witches.

He adored it. Eyes as big as saucers at times. And I loved listening with him. Miranda Richardson narrates, and most of the story is excellent, but I did have to help her out a little when she becomes the Norwegian Grand High Witch, shouting at her followers - you just can't make out what she's saying. My son certainly couldn't, anyway.

The boy (never named in the book) and his Grandmother are wonderful heroes. The whole book revolves around a meeting of England's witches - before that we have the two talking about how to spot a witch, what witches do to children, and having to travel to a hotel for Grandmamma's health, after the sad death of the boy's parents. The main part of the story takes place in a hotel ballroom, where the boy accidentally finds himself hidden in the room where the annual meeting of the witches takes place. And he hears their schemes to rid the country of all its children! The final third follows the boy after the meeting, where he may not leave quite as he entered... and can he and his 85-year-old relative stop the evil creatures?

This was a favourite of mine as a child, I remember delighting in the first chapters, as our teacher read out passages about how to spot a witch (maybe your teacher?!?!). My son even tried testing my spit and checking my fingernails to make sure of me. Hmmm.

It's a rollocking ride of language, the Grand High Witch insulting her fawning servants, talking in poems and spells, making potions with bizarre ingredients. I don't think my son caught all of the intricacies at his age, but he certainly followed the story.

The ending, I found especially moving as a parent and adult, as the loving pair discuss how long they each might live. The book finishes quite openly for Dahl, with less resolution that usual, as their story to rid the world of witches continues without us, the boy's fate not set in stone.

The fate of the witches is wonderful, Dahl loves punishing his evil characters to the delight of his readers, and my son was quite clearly satisfied after hearing about the horrible things they do to children.

I still wonder why the boy is never named... Quite an unusual tactic for Dahl. It feels quite Norwegian throughout (helped by a slight accent Richardson gives the narration), a very dark European fairy story.

We watched the Roeg film version soon after finishing, and it brought it home to me how the less than happy ending actually works better, how sometimes children need to know that it doesn't always end perfectly, that sometimes, as the boy does, we have to make the best of things.

My son is towards the very bottom end of suitable readers, I would say ideally ages 6-12 will love it, those reading by themselves probably about 9 or above.

One of Dahl's most disturbing, but best children's novels.
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on 27 February 2006
This is enchanting book, which I read to my 8 year old son at bedtime. A truly gripping story that holds no punches when appealing to a childs intrigue for ghoulish scariness. He couldn't even wait for the next installment and secreted the book into his school bag as a replacement for his class reading book the next day!
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on 7 April 2016
An absolutely fantastic seller. Lovely personal touches within the book. We bought this for our daughter and when she opened the envelope not only did she have the book that she really wanted that was in perfect condition at a bargain price but they had also enclosed sweets. Just wish all sellers paid so much attention to details. Thank you we have one very happy little girl :)
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Admittedly some smaller children may find this a bit frightening, but hey this is Roald Dahl and giving a dark edge to his stories is part of the fun. Anyway children are like the rest of us and enjoy a bit of a spine tingle.

Narrated in the first person we read of a boy and his grandmother, and their fights and troubles with witches. Growing up the Gran has already explained all about witches to the child, as she does indeed know a lot about them, their annual meetings, the grand witch in charge of them all and what they get up to. But little does our narrator know how close he will come to witches.

As our narrator tells us he has evaded one witch but now as he and his Gran are in Bournemouth after she has recovered from pneumonia so they stumble upon the British witches’ annual meeting, with the world’s top witch present. With a cunning plan to destroy every child in the UK can our narrator and his Gran thwart the dastardly scheme?

Entertaining and fun to read there is action and adventure here, plus wonderful illustrations throughout by Quentin Blake. This usually goes down well with children and I must admit that personally I think this is probably one of his finest children’s tales.
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on 23 July 2001
I recently re-read this childhood classic and to my amazement, I think I love it even more! In my wee days it scared me. Dahl's delicious descriptions could make every child's hair stand on end, but now I can enjoy Dahl's brilliant abilities of observation and talent for description.
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on 12 February 2008
Plot: To witches children smell like dogs droppings and you never know where one is. On the outside (with a disguise on), a witch can look like any ordinary women. Without the gloves to cover their cat like claws; they wear wigs because they are actually bald; witches are very difficult to tell apart from humans, or are they?

Fact: The boy (who is unnamed) in the story's grandmother is Norwegian and is really based on Roald Dahl's mother who inspired him a lot!

Rating and recommendation: I would rate this brilliant book 7/ 10; I think would recommend this perfect paperback to all Roald Dahl fans, especially 7 - 12 year
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on 15 October 2014
This book is brilliant, I find it tremendously imaginative. It is funny and Roald Dahl should be proud. The age limit of this book would be 10+. This book is not the best book I've ever read but I would recommend it as it is funny and entertaining.

The Witches is weirdly funny and scary! The funniest part is when the witches take three layers of skin off themselves and the ugliest witch is the GHW (Grand High Witch), she's nasty.

Don't you want this book, aren't you waiting to buy it? Just go to Amazon and get it?

By Myael, age 10
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on 18 July 2001
When I read the book I was so amazed I was about to faint.The book had such good ideas it was unbelieveable. Once I read the first few paragraphs I was glued to it and my mother told me to stop reading but I wouldn't let go it was it was so good.I would recomend other people to read the book to.
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