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The Witchs Boy by Kelly Barnhill is essentially a fairy tale that combines multiple story lines, while tugging at your heart strings from the very first page. The mischievous and happy twins, Ned and Tam build a make-shift raft that will take them from the Great River to the sea. The sea, Tam. the sea!Unfortunately, a raft built by 7 year-old boys can hardly be deemed sea-worthyThe current separated the boys. The father couldnt save them both. He kicked and swore, but as he reached one boy the closer boy his twin had been swept far down the length of the river and out of sight. We should have known hed bungle it, they said. He saved the wrong one. ‘And so Ned, the wrong boy, lived while Tam, the smart one, was carried away by the current and drowned. But his mother, Sister Witch, could not bear that one of her sons had died, while the other lay struggling for his life so she did something she shouldnt have: she used the magic kept under her care to keep her child alive. Saving Neds life came at a cost to him he barely grew, he was small and quiet, he stuttered:Words were his enemies. They rattled in his mouth like broken teeth, or tumbled off the page like scattered dust after a sneeze. he also forgot how to read:There was a time when he could read. Both he and his brother could. Before. But then everything changed. Now, whenever Ned looked at the sign (or any writing for that matter), the letters seemed to wobble, shift, and scramble themselves. They wriggled like snakes and swarmed like locusts. The townspeople think him dim-witted they are unkind. However, larger events come into play as the Queen comes to this little village while visiting different towns throughout her realm. Her family the Queens nephew in particular would love to see her dead. Fortunately, Sister Witch is able to save the Queens life and is then invited to visit the castle. Using magic is exhausting for Sister Witch, and so she leaves the magic at home, safe within its little jar, and asks Ned to look after it. Unfortunately, the Bandit King comes along with his band of ruffians to take the magic he is consumed by greed and power, and even threatens to kill Neds father to force Ned out of his home along with the jar of magic. But Ned discovers he can be brave he cannot let his father die he opens the jar, and the magic melds within his skin, burning, and itching, and causing so much pain. But it does not kill him. The real adventure begins!The magic within Ned is volatile constantly causing him to war within himself: Will he do what is right? Will he do what is selfish? Will he do what is best? Will he be merciful? Will he give into the power within him? Neds family has been keeping the magic good for generations can he do the same? The magic requires a strong will to be kept in its place it requires strong commanding words:A word, after all, is a kind of magic. It locks the substance of a thing in sound or symbol, and affixes it to the ear, or paper, or stone. Words call the world into being. Thats power indeed. And Ned was not a powerful boy. As he runs through the woods to escape the bandits, the Bandit King plots with the over-indulgent and power-hungry King Ott of a nearby kingdom against the Neds small village. He convinces King Ott to attack now Ned has an even greater task ahead: he needs to save himself, and warn his people. While lost in the woods, he meets a wolf and Áine the Bandit Kings daughter. Upon her death bed, Áines mother told her, The wrong boy will save your life, and you will save his. And the wolf Well, shed have to guess about the wolf. Together, this trio runs through the woods, escaping bandits, making some difficult decisions, and taking care of one another. They learn to trust, they learn to care, and most of all, they learn about true friendship and sacrifices. It is difficult to choose only one theme within this lovely tale of good versus evil. It is about friendship, it is about greed, it is about making the difficult choices, it is about forgiveness, and it is about accepting lossThe Witchs Boy is poetic in its repetition, melodic in its tone, and deep in its message. Check it out!
The Witch’s Boy by Barnhill, Kelly (2014) Hardcover Hardcover – 1900 by Kelly Barnhill (Author) Review
A lovely fairytale fantasy with very engaging characters. There were things about this world — its geography and history, as they had bearing on the story — that I didn’t always quite get, but on the other hand their mystery added to the lyrical quality of the whole. This could skew younger or a little older, as I could imagine Ned and Aine as 10 as easily as I could imagine them as 15. Either way, and for young readers of any age, the book does not dumb down its underlying musings about power, corruption, love, and loss. My favorite characters were Sister Witch (Ned’s mother, the witch of the title), and the Queen, who probably added the most humor — something largely lacking otherwise. I received an Review Copy of this book via NetGalley. -Read Reviews-
This was such a charming, clever book. I read it to see if it was appropriate for my 10 year old daughter. I meant to skim it and was instantly enchanted! The story of a young teen boy trying to figure out who he is and what he is truly capable of is a story we can relate to. The world they live in and journeyed theough was both just like ours and marvelously rich and imaginative. I recommemded it to both my daughter and my mom.