BOOK REVIEW: The Witches – by Roald Dahl

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Title: The Witches
Author: Roald Dahl
Genre: Children, Fantasy, Fiction
First published: 1983
Finished reading: November 22nd 2014
Pages: 208
Rating 4

“It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like, so long as somebody loves you.”

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I was feeling nostalgic the other day, and decided to to a Roald Dahl reread. He is one of my favorite childhood authors, and his prose is entertaining for both young and old. Since I needed a book about witches for the Bookish Bingo challenge, I decided to pick up a copy of The Witches this time. It is not my favorite Dahl read, but still very much entertaining! I just love the way he describes the whole situation and the ‘real’ witches. Some of the descriptions and prose are actually quite hilarious! All in all it makes for an excelent and easy book to read alone or together with children.

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This story is not about the fairy-tale kind of witches… There are REAL witches out there who can disguise themselves to look like ordinary ladies. But they are as evil as their fairy-tale sisters, and if you pay attention you can recognize them. When his parents die, the boy has to live with his Norwegian grandmother. She is a retired witchhunter, and tells him all about them. Real witches wear wigs, gloves and don’t have toes. Real witches think that children actually smell like dog droppings!

When they go to the coast on a short holiday, they actually run into a full blown witch meeting! Once a year the witches of every country get together to meet the Grand High Witch, and this year the English witches chose their hotel. The boy is soon discovered by them and won’t ever be the same… And soon both he and his grandmother are looking for a way to destroy the witches. Will they succeed?

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A very entertaining and light read with a brilliant prose that is at times even hilarious. The Witches might not be his best or most famous work, but it is definitely recommendable anyway. Roald Dahl was without doubt a genius and his work is timeless!

BOOK REVIEW: The Woman In Black – by Susan Hill

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Title: The Woman In Black
Author: Susan Hill
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Paranormal

First published: October 10th 1983
Finished reading: April 22nd 2014

Pages: 192

(Read in Spanish: ‘La Mujer De Negro’)

Rating 3

“For a long time, I did not move from the dark, wood-panelled hall. I wanted company, and I had none, lights and warmth and a strong drink inside me, I needed reassurance. But, more than anything else, I needed an explanation. It is remarkable how powerful a force simple curiosity can be. I had never realized that before now. In spite of my intense fear and sense of shock, I was consumed with the desire to find out exactly who it was that I had seen, and how, I could not rest until I had settled the business, for all that, while out there, I had not dared to stay and make any investigations.”

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I couldn’t find an English version of this novel, so I decided to read it in Spanish. I didn’t realize it was going to be an old fashioned ghost story, but I must say I wasn’t really bothered by it. The storyline in general was interesting and made you wonder what really happened at the isolated Eel Marsh house in the past and what is happening now. What did bother me was the language used, which made it slow to read at some points. But then again, that might or might not be due to inadequate translation. I guess I will have to read the original version before I will be able to judge the language…

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The Woman In Black is about an older Arthur Kipps, who after hearing ghost stories on Christmas Eve with his family remembers a terrifying event. Many years ago, when he was a young lawyer and having a relationship with a different woman, his then boss asked him to attend a funeral of one of their clients and sort out the paperwork, since there were no direct relatives. The old woman lived at an old and isolated mansion Eel Marsh, and a lot of rumors and stories go around in the villages closest to Eel Marsh. As an outsider Arthur doesn’t know about any of this, but is soon introduced to the mystery of the woman in black. When he goes to Eel Marsh, strange things are starting to happen, terrifying things… Arthur realizes the woman in black he keeps seeing isn’t really alive anymore, and a ghost story is born. What will happen to Arthur, and what about the curse of the woman in black? And the children?

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The end made a nice twist; it showed that the spirit of woman in black had a lot of power even far away from the Eel Marsh house. It’s not the typical ghost story and in parts I didn’t like the language used, but it is still worth reading. Plus, it is a short novel, so not a lot of time wasted in case you don’t like it. I might re-read it myself but only if I find an English version.