I was really excited to receive an early copy of ‘How To Catch a Witch’ by Abie Longstaff but unfortunately living in a house with two other book lovers I find that quite often they mysteriously go missing. Yet when I ask if anyone has taken them, nobody has they appear to have magically disappeared. Which leads me rather nicely to this marvellous story filled with magic and mayhem which takes everything that we normally see portrayed about witches and turns it on its head. She struggles to fit into school and her anxiety causes her stutter to return making her stand out even more. There are no broomsticks, black cats, wands or ugly old women covered in warts instead we have are introduced to a more modern witch who uses herbs and natural elements to create spells that will heal or protect.
Charlie Samuels life is turned upside down when her family are forced to move from the big city to a country village, where everything feels wrong. There is something very strange about her house and she sees and feels things she can’t explain. Struggling to make friends, her anxiety causes her stutter to return making her stand out even more. Nothing makes any sense until she finds a woman living alone in the woods who appears to be a witch and Charlie finds herself drawn into a tale of the unexpected, a tale in which good must do battle over an ancient curse not realising that it will change her life forever.
Abie weaves the magical world brilliantly into every day life and takes fairy tale elements seamlessly integrating them into the story in a truly believable way. Yet this sits alongside the realities of the portrayal of Charlie’s difficult life. Her parents are financially burdened, she has lost her best friends and she is terrified to open her mouth to speak to anyone because her stutter is causing her severe embarrassment. She captures the pain and joy of growing up and not feeling comfortable in your own skin. For Charlie it’s the strange sensations she’s feeling, but all children experience this in their own way and reading about others experiences will offer comfort and reassurance. This is an enchanting and captivating story and Abie is a wonderful writer who will delight readers with this magical tale. You are left feeling that you are on the cusp of uncovering a whole new world filled with adventures for Charlie and we even get a sneak peek of the next book ‘How To Trap A Wolf’ which is out in 2017.
Thank you to Scholastic for sending me a copy of this book.