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Which Witch?
By Eva Ibbotson

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Which Witch?
By Eva Ibbotson
Thorndike Press - Large Print, (2001)
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - March 25, 2002

Arriman Canker, the evil Wizard of the North, formally known as George, and the beautiful witch Belladonna both have a problem. Arriman the Awful's problem is that he'd decided that it is his responsibility to take a wife in order to beget an heir. Belladonna's problem is that she is desperately in love with Arriman and wants to be his wife. Ah, problem solved you say? Wrong!

As an evil Wizard, Arriman knows that his wife must be a witch as evil, wicked, and powerful as he is. In order to find such a mate, he has devised a contest in which all the local witches must compete against each other. And, he has declared that, " ...whichever witch does there the vilest, darkest, and most powerful piece of magic shall be my wife!" This is a pronouncement that Arriman quickly regrets after he sees the witches that will be competing for his hand. These witches run the gamut from old Mother Bloodwort who has a habit of turning herself into a coffee table to Ethel Feedbag who has a pig as a familiar. While Belladonna has every right to participate in the contest, and she is young and beautiful, she does have one major flaw going against her - she is a white witch. Even when she tries her hardest to cast an evil spell, all she comes up with is begonias, or bunnies, or some other cute thing. Evil is just not in her - or is it? From the very first Belladonna, and everyone else for that matter, assumes that she has not a chance of winning. But that is before she befriends Terrence Mugg, an orphan who's best friend Rover just happens to be an earthworm, and before anyone realized just how determined Belladonna was too win.

This is a delightful story that will intrigue both young and old alike. Belladonna is a sweet creature who quickly endears herself to the reader. For his part, although he is the most evil Wizard, Arriman is a bit of a pussycat, and a very lonely man. He lives in a Darkington Hall with Sir Simon Montpelier, a ghost who killed all of his wives, who numbered seven in total. And he is waited upon by Lester, a one eyed, sword swallowing ogre, and Mr. Leadbetter, his secretary who sports a little tail. While most of the characters in this book are basically very nice people, some, such as Madame Olympia, are downright mean. Yet, as in all proper fairytales, everyone, in the end, gets what they deserve!

Which Witch? is written by Eva Ibbotson who also wrote The Secret of Platform 13. Her writing is fast paced and witty and will surely delight even the most jaded reader. It is also an excellent book for reading out loud. Ibbotson's work in imaginative and simply fun to read. This book also includes a selection of illustrations by Annabel Large. By the way, be sure to take a close look at the chapter headings. You may need a magnifying glass to see it, but the word 'chapter' and the number for each chapter is spelled out in animal-shaped letters. For example, the T's are tigers, the H's hares, the R's racoons, and so forth. This is a clever touch for an enchanting book.

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