From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8–Ben, 8, and Jennet, 12, have been bouncing in and out of various foster homes for the past two years because of Ben's unique ability–he sees ghosts. They are now being sent to an old friend of their deceased parents and are determined to make this home permanent. As part of that goal, Ben is supposed to hide his gift and not do anything weird. Then they meet their foster parent, 92-year-old Alice Boston. She is eccentric and loving, and accepts Ben's power without a blink–until an evil force appears, and her friends begin dying one by one. It is then up to Alice and the children to save the town and themselves. Witches
is a dark but delightful read that involves ghosts, evil magicians (and good ones), and an ancient curse. There is just the right amount of suspense to make the book creepy, but not enough to make it truly scary for younger readers. The characters are believable and likable, and Jarvis has easily straddled the line between (mild) horror and fantasy. Give this to lovers of R. L. Stine for an equally satisfying but more challenging read.–Saleena L. Davidson, South Brunswick Public Library, Monmouth Junction, NJ
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This English fishing village where Ben lives may be small, but it is never dull: Ben (who sees things that others can't) becomes involved in helping a group of fisher folk looking for moonkelp; Aunt Alice holds seances with her ladies' circle; and a mysterious newcomer, Rowena Cooper, seems connected to the recent deaths of three of Aunt Alice's closest friends. Aunt Alice is reminiscent of Agatha Christie's Jane Marple, and, although the story's villain is never really in question, the hows and whys of Rowena's activities are compelling. Readers will enjoy the climactic battle between good and evil that sets up the premise for book two of the Whitby Witches Trilogy. Petersen's soft pencil illustrations decorate every chapter, giving form to the story's unusual characters and settings. Equal parts mystery and fantasy, this novel will be best appreciated by readers able to tolerate a little gore. Kay WeismanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved