Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Mr Crossley receives an anonymous note stating "SOMEONE IN THIS CLASS IS A WITCH". This is dangerous because witches are still hunted down and burnt at stake in this alternate version of England and as Mr Crossley teaches in Larwood House, a boarding school for witch orphans and other problematic children, it could very well be true. Suspicion falls on Nan Pilgrim, the outcast girl with a famous witch's name (teasingly at first), whilst other classmates in 2Y soon discover some hidden talents. (I'm not sure why the edition I'm reading states their class as 2Y but Goodreads and Amazon says it's 6B?)
I think I'm pretty much a fan of Diana Wynne Jones by now so this may end up to be another gushing review. I must say this is the first of the Chrestomanci series that I have read so far (I started off with the Howl trilogy, got a little disappointed at Dogsbody and was pleasantly delighted by Dark Lord of Derkholm) and I loved it. Chrestomanci doesn't come in until maybe the third quarter of the book, so I didn't realise at first that it was part of the series - and now I want to find out who this mysterious personage (or personages) is (are).
The story is refreshingly and childishly funny, which I prefer over the current tendency to be either sexual or gross or mean in an effort to try to be "funny". There's a tinge of the old boarding school stories (i.e. St Clare's, Malory Towers) with late night prowls and watchful prefects in between the wonder and delight of magic. But if you're starting to think it's a simple straight-forward children's book, you'll be mistaken. There are twists within twists in this story, and there are more witches than you'd ever expect to appear in one class!
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