When Daisy (or Twinkle as they name her on arrival) is dragged kicking and screaming to Toadspit Towers – a school for witches by – her granny she’s absolutely furious. She clearly is not a witch, she is in fact a serious Shakespearean actress whose whole career is about to be ruined if she doesn’t get to play Bottom at her ‘normal’ school performance. Exceedingly put out she is determined to do everything she can to escape from this terrible place, where she is forced to sleep inside a cauldron, earn ticks to eat more than gloop and the rooms are locked at night to keep them safe from the monsters who stalk the corridors. But when she starts to show an alarming gift for all things witchcraft, everyone starts to question her claims that she can’t possibly be a witch. In fact they think she might just be the best and brightest witch they’ve ever seen.
I grew up totally obsessed with boarding school stories so this story immediately captured my attention and what could be better than a magical school. Of course there are lots of magical boarding schools in stories but none as well frankly eccentric as Toadspit Towers, if I tell you the school’s headteacher is a cursed ghost you’ll have some idea what I mean. Daisy (or Ophelia as she calls herself, it’s definitely not Twinkle) is a brilliant heroine who is hilariously endearing, her refusal to conform in any way possible is infuriatingly funny as is her sheer determination not to bend to the will of the school despite everyone’s best efforts. Em has constructed a well thought out world with the most elaborate attention to detail. I particularly love the witchwood charms on the bracelets that can be turned into a variety of useful objects from pencils to torches. Jamie Littler’s illustrations are bursting with humour and attention to detail, capturing perfectly the warmth of this weird and wonderful story. And of course the best thing is that this is just the first book from Twinkle (sorry I mean Ophelia, or was that Daisy) and her friends in a marvellous new series, I for one can’t wait to read the next one.
Thank you to Nosy Crow for sending me a copy of this fabulous book, ‘You Can’t Make Me Go To Witch School’ is available to buy from any good bookshop or online.