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The Whitby Witches: Book One of the Whitby Witches Trilogy
     

The Whitby Witches: Book One of the Whitby Witches Trilogy

by Robin Jarvis, Jeff Petersen (Illustrator)
 
At first glance, the small seaside town of Whitby seems quiet and charming, but eight year-old Ben and his older sister Jennet soon learn that things are not always as they seem. Moved about from foster home to foster home, Ben and Jennet hope to make a fresh start in Whitby. But Ben sees thingsand peopleothers cannot. There's something unusual about Alice Boston,

Overview

At first glance, the small seaside town of Whitby seems quiet and charming, but eight year-old Ben and his older sister Jennet soon learn that things are not always as they seem. Moved about from foster home to foster home, Ben and Jennet hope to make a fresh start in Whitby. But Ben sees thingsand peopleothers cannot. There's something unusual about Alice Boston, their new guardian. And what is that horrible howling Jennet hears late at night? Something wicked's brewing in Whitby. Can Ben and Jennet put it to rest?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Equal parts mystery and fantasy, this novel will be best appreciated by readers able to tolerate a little gore." –Booklist

"There is just the right amount of suspense to make the book creepy, but not enough to make it truly scary for younger readers. The characters are believable and likable, and Jarvis has easily straddled the line between (mild) horror and fantasy. Give this to lovers of R. L. Stine for an equally satisfying but more challenging read." –School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly
Jarvis's (the Deptford Mice trilogy) story of witches and creatures from the sea stars orphans Jennet, 12, and eight-year-old Ben, who are brought to live with their Aunt Alice in the seaside town of Whitby. Ben, who has seen visions of ghosts all his life, has a particularly terrifying night during which the house seems filled with them. Jennet learns that Alice and the old ladies of the village are witches who engage in a monthly s ance. Later, Ben meets an aufwader ("wanderer of the shore") in a cemetery, "eyes as big as his fists and as gray as the stormy sea"; he learns how one of these "fisher folk" once married a human and bore a child, which brought about a curse from the Lords of the Deep-and Ben holds the key to finding the "moonkelp" that can overturn it. Meanwhile, evil socialite Rowena Cooper also seeks the moonkelp for her own purposes, and is not above committing murder to get it. Petersen's full-page half-tone illustrations bring the aufwaders in particular to life and enhance the story's somewhat dark, nautical feel. The book ends on a tantalizing and somber note, with major foreshadowing for Ben in the subsequent volumes. Ages 8-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Beverley Fahey
Jennet and her brother Ben, after the deaths of their parents and several unsuccessful foster homes, have been sent to live with elderly Alice Boston. Ben, who has the ability to see things not of this world, has vowed to keep his strange power secret and not jeopardize their chances of making a permanent home. In the quiet seaside town of Whitby, life is pleasant until the arrival of the mysterious Rowena Cooper. Aunt Alice does not trust the on-the-surface friendly Rowena, and when three of her friends die under suspicious circumstances, Alice believes Rowena has had a hand in their deaths. Meanwhile, Ben cannot quell his powers, and has befriended an aufwader—an endangered species of fisher folk who live beneath the sea. He becomes involved in a plan to help them find the moonkelp, which blooms only once every nine years and is instrumental to their survival. The two children and Aunt Alice become embroiled in a bitter battle, not only to save the aufwader, but also to prevent Rowena from finding the staff of St. Hilda. With it in her grasp, she can unleash its terrible power and gain control of the world. The insatiable appetite to read powerful, engrossing fantasy may be satisfied by this gripping tale. Aunt Alice is the central figure is this story of greed, evil, and violence, with Ben serving a subordinate but important role in the resolution of good over evil. Following a slow start, the novel becomes a real page-turner as death stalks Whitby. Clever twists and turns require careful reading, and the tale of the aufwader is not always seamlessly incorporated. Part one of a trilogy, one can only hope the second installment won't be far behind and lives up to the reputationestablished here.
VOYA - Christine Sanderson
When eight-year-old Ben and his twelve-year-old sister, Jennet, arrive in Whitby to live with Alice Boston, they hope that this foster home will be their last. Ben's claim of seeing "visitors," including his dead mother, has been more than most caregivers could handle. "Aunt Alice" seems envious of Ben's ability rather than disturbed by it, however, as she and her Ladies Circle conduct their own monthly seances. Things get complicated when Ben meets Nelda, an aufwader: "He had never beheld anything like it before; the creature was not human. Her face was like soft leather." At the same time, the members of Alice's Ladies Circle begin dying. Ben is destined to save the aufwaders, and Alice is determined to save the community. Together they defeat Rowena Cooper, a catalyst to both of their problems. Combining the supernatural, mild horror, an orphaned hero and heroine, and an eccentric mentor, this book has the basic elements of fantasy novels geared to younger readers. Although the several subplots seem almost disjointed, the conclusion successfully ties everything together, and Petersen's illustrations bring the fantasy to life. Clearly geared to a young audience, the sophisticated vocabulary, such as "If one believes in the genius loci-the spirit of the place-then surely therein dwells something divine," makes the book a match and even a challenge for middle school readers. The novel is a good choice for most middle school libraries.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Ben, 8, and Jennet, 12, have been bouncing in and out of various foster homes for the past two years because of Ben's unique ability-he sees ghosts. They are now being sent to an old friend of their deceased parents and are determined to make this home permanent. As part of that goal, Ben is supposed to hide his gift and not do anything "weird." Then they meet their foster parent, 92-year-old Alice Boston. She is eccentric and loving, and accepts Ben's power without a blink-until an evil force appears, and her friends begin dying one by one. It is then up to Alice and the children to save the town and themselves. Witches is a dark but delightful read that involves ghosts, evil magicians (and good ones), and an ancient curse. There is just the right amount of suspense to make the book creepy, but not enough to make it truly scary for younger readers. The characters are believable and likable, and Jarvis has easily straddled the line between (mild) horror and fantasy. Give this to lovers of R. L. Stine for an equally satisfying but more challenging read.-Saleena L. Davidson, South Brunswick Public Library, Monmouth Junction, NJ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In the first installment of Jarvis's new trilogy, Ben and Jennet have bounced among foster homes because people are alarmed by Ben's ability to see ghosts-until Alice Boston, an old woman who lives in a small seaside village called Whitby, takes them in. At first, the children can't believe their luck. For the first time in ages, Ben feels relaxed, and in his wanderings, he meets some mystical sea folk. But Aunt Alice has secrets of her own, and Jennet and Ben aren't Whitby's only newcomers: A suspicious woman moves to the village. When Aunt Alice's friends fall under her dangerous spell, Ben, Jennet and Aunt Alice must join with the sea folk to fight for their lives. What begins as an old-fashioned fantasy with atmosphere and characters reminiscent of E. Nesbit's works gets overly complex as the plot reaches its climax. Still, fantasy readers will find a great deal to love here, and this seems a perfect choice for the younger legion of Harry Potter fans. (Judging by the familiar-looking cover design, the publisher thinks so, too.) (Fiction. 8-12)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780811854139
Publisher:
Chronicle Books LLC
Publication date:
08/28/2006
Pages:
296
Product dimensions:
6.37(w) x 9.37(h) x 1.12(d)
Lexile:
830L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 18 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"Equal parts mystery and fantasy, this novel will be best appreciated by readers able to tolerate a little gore." –Booklist

"There is just the right amount of suspense to make the book creepy, but not enough to make it truly scary for younger readers. The characters are believable and likable, and Jarvis has easily straddled the line between (mild) horror and fantasy. Give this to lovers of R.L. Stine for an equally satisfying but more challenging read." –School Library Journal

Meet the Author

Robin Jarvis studied graphic design in college and worked in television and advertising before becoming a full-time author and illustrator. Mr. Jarvis resides in England.

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