Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson

The Lovereading4Kids comment

A favourite of November 2010 Guest Editor Jonathan Stroud: "Arriman the Awful, master of black magic and great Wizard of the North, needs an heir. And that means he has to get married. Trouble is, wicked wizards have to marry witches – most of whom are better known for their warts and snaggleteeth than their ravishing beauty. Reluctantly, Arriman organises a competition to find the most powerful witch… and all kinds of treachery, double-dealing and disasters unfold. I’ve always adored Eva Ibbotson’s books, mainly because they are hugely funny, but also because she is superb at creating likeable and unexpected characters, such as the amiable Cyclops servant who wears an eye-patch on his forehead above his single eye, just so he doesn’t startle anyone. The book is also surprisingly dark: underneath the humour there’s lots of satisfyingly nasty and ghoulish goings on. Perfect for anybody who likes fantasy, comedy, horror or mystery… in short – perfect for everyone!"

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. A competition between witches to see who can produce the most evil and terrible spell. Bad enough in itself but made much worse when some of them go frighteningly,hilariously wrong. Maniacal magic.

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Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson

Arriman the Awful, feared Wizard of the North, has decided to marry. But his wife must be a witch of the darkest powers...A sorcery competition is held to discover which witch is the most potent and fiendish, and glamorous Madame Olympia conjures up a thousand plague-bearing rats! Belladonna, the white witch, desperately wants to be a wicked enchantress, but her magic produces flowers instead of snakes. How can she become more devilish than all the other witches? 'Eva Ibbotson weaves a magic like no other. Once enchanted, always enchanted' - Michael Morpurgo.


Eva Ibbotson's seven children's books, written over the last 25 years, have proved timeless and can be enjoyed equally by the eight-to-ten age group and by adults reading to children. Arriman the Awful, Wizard of the North, was born of sensible ordinary parents but quickly outgrew the small-town environs of Todcaster. He now resides in Darkington Hall, a large gloomy house with a resident ghost - Sir Simon Montpelier. Cared for by Lester, an ogre, and secretary Mr Leadbetter, Arriman works diligently at keeping darkness and sorcery alive until a fortune teller informs him that a new wizard is coming to relieve him. However, no-one comes, and, growing weary of waiting after 990 days, Arriman reluctantly decides to take a witch to wife. All Todcaster witches are now in competition to see which of them can cast the blackest spell and thus capture Arriman's heart. The contestants range from the wicked enchantress Madame Olympia to the gentle white witch Belladonna, with a number of weird and gruesome 'ladies

- but is it enough to beat Madame Olympia? The mayhem at the competition is hilarious and frightening, with suspense building to a surprising conclusion. Written more than 20 years ago, this story is as fresh and entertaining today as any contemporary fantasy fiction. Full of strange characters, gory deeds, spellbinding trickery and a very satisfactory conclusion, this is a most enjoyable book. (Kirkus UK)

About the Author

Eva Ibbotson

Born in Vienna, Eva Ibbotson came to England as a small girl. She spent much of her adult life in Newcastle upon Tyne. When her husband was alive he bred snails in the garage; they also kept fish and had a small and very hairy dog. Eva had four grown-up children and seven grandchildren. She wrote for both adults and children. Which Witch was runner-up for the Carnegie Medal and The Secret of Platform 13 was shortlisted for the Smarties Prize. Journey to the River Sea won the Smarties Book Prize Gold Award, was runner-up for the Whitbread Children's Book of the Year and the Guardian Fiction Award, and was also shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal.

Eva's books for older readers (12+) include: The Morning Gift, A Song for Summer, The Secret Countess, A Company of Swans and Magic Flutes. Her books for younger readers (9+) include: The Dragonfly Pool, Journey to the River Sea and The Star of Kazan.

And for even younger readers (7+): Which Witch, Dial a Ghost, Not just a Witch, Monster Mission, The Beasts of Clawstone Castle, The secret of Platform 13, The Great Ghost rescue and The Haunting of Hiram.

Eva's final novel that she completed prior to her death at the age of 85 in 2010 is called One Dog and his Boy.

Eva Ibbotson on writing:
"I started to scribble stories when I was about seven years old and I just carried on so I became a writer gradually. I didn't try to get anything published until I was quite grown-up. I write at my mother's old desk, looking out on to a leafy street, and I rewrite what I have written again and again until I get the words the way I want them (most of my pages have been through eight drafts or so). It's my belief that one should be in the same place each day, so that if an idea is hovering it knows where to find you. Ideas can come from places one has seen or conversations one has overheard - or just from nowhere! Being an author can be lonely, difficult and frustrating, but there is nothing else I'd rather be."

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Book Info


208 pages
Interest Age: From 7


Eva Ibbotson
More books by Eva Ibbotson


Macmillan Children's Books an imprint of Pan Macmillan

Publication date

12th October 2001




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