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Not Just A Witch (2004)

Not Just a Witch (2004)
3.7 of 5 Votes: 1
014240232X (ISBN13: 9780142402320)
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Not Just A Witch (2004)
Not Just A Witch (2004)

About book: Hectate Tenbury-Smith 'Heckie' is not just a witch. She’s a good witch…a witch who betters the world by transforming wicked people into harmless animals. Straight out of WAW(witches against wickedness) school, she’s hopes to make the world a better place accompanied by her best friend Dora Mayberry (who incidentally can turn anything into stone). However an ugly spat makes the two witches part ways and head off in opposite directions.With her good intentions still intact, Heckie settles down in Wellbridge ready to rid the town of it’s nasty citizens. Her unlikely accomplice is a boy called Daniel, who’s the neglected son of two eminent professors. Also joining the “Wickeness Hunters” are Daniel’s friends Sumi and Joe and a motley crew of witches and wizards.Armed with her 'Knuckle of Power' and 'Toe of Transformation', Heckie is soon righting wrongs and adding some unique creatures to the local zoo! But soon an oily character called Lionel Knacksap begins to court Heckie. The smitten Heckie doesn’t realize that Knapsack has witnessed her magical powers and is all out to exploit them for his own benefits. Trouble is definitely brewing.....will Heckie realize smarmy Knacksap’s true agenda?....will she bind ties with woebegone Dora?...and will the “Wickedness Hunters” triumph at the end of the day?Another funny read from the Eva Ibbotson stable. Once more she makes supernatural entities and slimy monsters lovable and laughable. Her plots are never predictable and initial page-fillers are infact crucial to the plot. Thoroughly enjoyable and a fun way to drive out the monsters from under your bed!!!

I wanted something a bit lighter, since my life right now has been "challenging", and this fit the bill for this, but the story didn't quite make it for me. The characters are the main attraction, but somehow, I just didn't find out enough about them to make a real connection. For example, you don't really get to know Heckie and her friend Dora, before they have a big fight and stop talking to each other. You don't care enough about the friendship to feel its loss until much later in the book. And some of the characters, especially the other witches and the children, seem uni-dimensional. One wizard wants to make cheese walk. This could be a great joke, but it isn't developed enough to help me understand him - to feel his quirks and sympathize with him. It is just a one-line joke, until it comes in handy later in the story. You do find out a lot about some of the villains, but what you find out is mostly there to convince you that Heckie's plan for them (turning them into animals) is justified.I don't think children would mind these flaws, but for me, it keeps the book from being a classic. Enjoyable, but superficial.
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Ibbotson writes in the simple declarative sentences of someone telling a bedtime tale ... and then guides the reader gently by the hand into horror. Because it's a children's book, all has to turn out for the best. In the meantime, the most unimaginable cruelties can take place. There are two witches who were best friends in witching school but had a falling out and went their separate ways. Because they are "good" witches, they try to do good. This seems to consist of finding very bad people and either turning them into interesting animals (that are now "nice" so they must be cared for) or to stone. If you are a child, this might make sense, and two out of the three children who get involved are happy to help. The third child, a very very smart Asian girl, is reluctant, but she loses her reservations when a white supremacist comes to town. Ah, how easily we respond to fear! We can also be gulled by love, which steers the witches blindly into cruelty on a mass scale. If the actions in this book seem horrifying, they are told in a fairytale style, softening them and making them seem palatable until the little snowball runs out of control and the avalanche ensues. This is a cautionary tale. It's about right and wrong. And Ibbotson has very clear ideas what constitutes right and wrong.
I thought this was a pretty cute book, not my favorite but still very cute. As always, I enjoy the magical aspect of the book. I like that the witches are good and trying to help the world though in a very extreme, nearly backfires on them kind of way. I think the writer shows great character with the witches at the end. They both loved someone very much and both were betrayed. When they found this person in a vulnerable position they could have cast a horrible spell and yet they didn't. They walked away and made a call to the proper authorities. I think that showed great depth of character...
I generally enjoy Eva Ibbotson's books very much, so I picked up Not Just A Witch on the basis that it was one I hadn't read before. It was a little bit of a disappointment though, since it was just sort of eh.It follows the same sort of formula that many Ibbotson books do. A neglected child (Daniel) meets a magical or otherwise supernatural being (a witch, Heckie) and helps her to accomplish some very important aim (protecting a town from a white supremacist furrier and mending her friendship with another witch, Dora). Since it's an Ibbotson book, all ends happily; the villain Gets His at the hands of a group of people dedicated to their town, the neglected child gets a makeshift found family, and Heckie and Dora reconcile. It's all very standard, hence my reaction.However, I do want to point out that Heckie and Dora can be read as either queer or aromantic; both things I appreciated very much.
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