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The Whitby Witches (Whitby, Book 1) Hardcover – August 10, 2006

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 830L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books; First Edition edition (August 10, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811854132
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811854139
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,298,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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 Weisman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By zingara on February 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I read this book a couple of years ago and loved it! I was really looking forward to the sequel but that's where the "but" comes in! It looks like this series came out in the UK in full, but by the time we got it: it was on its way out! Now the only way to get the next book is to pay a lot of money for it used. This first book stands well enough on its own, but just don't get too excited about reading the second in the series.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amy Aldrich on January 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As we join the story, we find Jennet (12) and her brother, Ben (8) on the train to meet their new guardian, Alice Boston (92). It seems that Jennet and Ben are orphans who have been moving from foster home to foster home (four so far) because Ben is different...he can see ghosts, this has cost them four new homes and Jennet is determined that he won't mess things up for them in Whitby with Alice. Upon arriving in Whitby by train, they meet Alice Boston their new caretaker, and are surprised to find that she's an eccentric old lady...kind of the town busybody. It's not long before they fall into a casual friendship with Alice and things start to get a little weird around town.

The Whitby Witches turns out to be something of a junior paranormal thriller with a dark side...but not too dark. The cast of characters include Ben, Jennet, Alice, the ladies circle (friends of Alice who meet once a month and includes Prudence, Matilda, Dora, and Edith), Rowena Cooper (our resident bad guy), and the local Aufwader's - the strange fisher people who live in caves by the sea (Nelda, Hesper, Tarr, and Silas). It all seems to start shortly after the arrival of Rowena Cooper...Alice's friends start dying, all labeled accidents by the police, but Alice believes differently (as does Ben who has met Nelda the young Aufwader girl whose father and uncle are missing). We really are given two parallel plot lines, the deaths of the ladies circle and the Aufwader mystery (including the search for the mysteries, mythical moonkelp). Everything in the story is linked to the moonkelp, the ruins of the abbey, and the mysteries Sister Bridget. Will Nelda and Ben find the moon kelp and save her people from extinction? Will Alice find out what Rowena is up to and will they all come out of it alive?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ann Jordan on June 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Two young orphan siblings are sent to live with an elderly lady at the English seaside. Eight-year-old Ben's disability with other families turns into an advantage there as he discovers that his "sight" finds him new friends and can help save--or destroy--the world. This charming story of magic stands alone, but it was a relief to find that the trilogy has already been written. I'm anxious to know the fate of the mythical "fisherfolk" that little Ben and Aunt Alice can see, but which practical Jennet cannot. This story could work as a read-aloud to an elementary-age audience (though a bit long for a class), and should appeal to those who like Harry Potter.
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