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Three Witches Hardcover – July 21, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up—Trevor Saunders is dead, and he's left behind three confused girls. He owes Gillian a lot of money, and she needs to find where it's hidden in order to buy a one-way ticket back to Trinidad. Miya got in a huge fight with him the night he died and screamed some horrible things at him. And Aliya was Trevor's girlfriend, although due to her family's strict adherence to Islam, the romance was a secret. All three girls just want to talk to him one last time so they can get information, clear their conscience, or move on with their lives. They strike a plan to use magical practices from each of their cultural heritages to try to commune with him. Gillian visits an obeah man, Aliya focuses on a jinn, and Miya begins practicing the exercises described to her by a Japanese kitoshi. As the girls work, they find that they are growing to like one another. They also grow stronger and more confident. The culmination of their plan is a midnight rooftop ritual designed to draw Trevor back from the other side, but the results are not what they expect. Jolin's characters and their backgrounds ring true, including the dialect from the girls' native languages. However, the pacing is generally slow until the end, when everything is resolved quickly. Overall, though, this is a fine read for those interested in magic from other lands.—Laura Amos, Newport News Public Library, VA END


“The combination of spooky possibilities and mystery is enticing, and the notion of different supernatural traditions adds glamour.” —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Jolin’s characters and their backgrounds ring true.” —School Library Journal

“Jolin (In the Name of God) gives each of the girls compelling internal conflicts, and her provocative open ending will leave readers debating just how successful the girls are.” —Publishers Weekly


"I love how the book gave the reader knowledge [of] differnent culture's beliefs."—Mali, age 12


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press; First Edition edition (July 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596433531
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596433533
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,789,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Graves VINE VOICE on August 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Three Witches follows the adventures of three Maine high school girls from very different cultures who are drawn together by the death of a single guy.

Each girl knew the dead boy in a different way, Aliya, was his girlfriend, Gillian was his business partner and Miya's mother had an affair with his father, destroying both families and each has unresolved business with him. Sure that they are being haunted by him each reaches out using her ethnic folklore and looks inside herself to grow beyond the loss created by the unfinished business.

The best part is that each girl comes form a different culture and starting out I was sure they would each develop the same way but Jolin crafts each girl to be separate, not only in her culture but what she needs to resolve within herself. Aliya, the daughter of Syrian Muslims needs to find a way to reach beyond the cultural limitation of her parents. Gillian recently arrived from Trinidad longs to return to the tropics and get away from the cold of New England and Miya, daughter of a devoted Japanese mother wants to find away to fit in and define her sense of self.

Each girl reaches into her own ethnic folk lore for the answers and builds on it with the help of her companions who slowly become her friends. It is less a story about teens with magical powers than it is a story of teens who look to an unexpected part of their culture to help them with a problem and in so doing understand their culture and themselves better.

The only thing I didn't like was that it seems like the ethnic character is delivered a little too hard. Especially in Gillian's case as the Carrib' accent gets too thick, she even texts in the Trini' dialect which makes little sense since it sometimes means more key strokes and people don't think they speak with an accent.

Other than this though, this is a great book and well worth the aggravation of the occasionally over the top dialogue.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Edane on July 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm going to be more generous than the previous two reviews, perhaps because I'm coming at it from a different place. I do not know anything about the magical traditions of Trinidad or Syria or Japan so I am not going to presume to comment on how accurately she has portrayed them, but her portrayal of teenagers messing with magic in haphazard, disjointed and dangerous ways is cross-cultural. All cultures and all religions have their own magical traditions; good, bad and amoral. And many people turn to magic in times of stress and trouble and feelings of powerlessness against the bad hard stuff in life. The details of the specific cultural traditions are not so important as the thinking about the use of magic in itself. Regardless of whether it can work, or not, is also almost beside the point. The point is what reaching for this method of affecting life can do to you, for good or ill. I think Jolin does a pretty good job of exploring this and not shying from the trouble and distorted thinking you can get yourself into all too easily. In that, this is a cautionary tale, but it is also a coming of age story. Each of the girls changes and starts on her road to adulthood, though one is not given any cute pat answers how any of them will turn out. I like that. Life is not a two hour movie. Life keeps evolving and developing. Some of us would say it does so through thousands of lives on thousands of worlds. This is not a trite book nor does it have literary pretensions. It is an interesting and often thought-provoking story, a bit rough around the edges now and then, a bit dragging in spots, but she takes on a subject too often dealt with in silly, dangerous and entirely superficial ways in current book fads and brings some reality and depth to it and I, for one, am glad I read it and I recommend it to anyone interested in Craft and the consequences, for good or ill, of its use.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By fredtownward VINE VOICE on November 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When Trevor Sanders drove his car off a cliff, Aliya lost her chance to say goodbye, Gillian lost her money, and Miya lost her chance to apologize, but you cannot bring back the dead, not even for a moment,...

or can you?

Paula Jolin spins a very unusual tale here, by turns fascinating and disturbing, as three emotionally shattered girls turn inward towards their cultural traditions of magic and the occult in order to try and do what cannot be done,...

what should not be done.

The author does a pretty good job of keeping the reader guessing: is this mere coincidence, or is something beginning to happen? One thing that made the story more believable to me was that all of the main characters are suffering to various degrees from the trauma of broken, dysfunctional families (distant or absent fathers, messed up or overcompensating mothers), which already has them engaging in more ordinary forms of ill-advised and self-destructive behavior so that dabbling in the occult seemed a natural next step.

The "surprise" ending was expected, though still a surprise. What was NOT expected was the SECOND surprise ending, which leaves it to the reader to decide which ending to believe. In any event the ending(s) appear to leave our three titular witches somewhat better off, somewhat more capable of coping with their many remaining problems.

At the very least it leaves them as friends who won't have to face them alone.

Note: Parents who don't like occult themed books won't like this one either, and on the off chance that it needs to be said,...

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