Now, knowing how much I love books about a) witches, b) schools, and c) witch schools, how much do you think I loved this book?
No riddles. The answer is: An Absolute Cauldron-Load.
Book: You Can’t Make Me Go To Witch School by Em Lynas
Read before: No, but I wish I had
Ownership: Paperback copy bought by me from Mostly Books.
This book is the definition of fun. If you look up fun in the dictionary, you should see a picture of Daisy Wart in her ridiculous and not-at-all-witchy hat! You see, Daisy doesn’t believe she is a witch, even when her grandmother drops her off at Toadspit Towers, the witchiest school. Daisy is an actress, not a witch – though, she does seem to be suspiciously good at witchcraft… but no, she can’t be a witch. She has to get home and perform her Bottom (in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, that is!).
I’ve not seen a lot of this kind of middle grade fiction written in the first person, but I’m so glad that this book was. Daisy’s voice is just wonderful – you feel like you know her instantly, and she fairly leaps off the page with life. I loved her Shakespeare obsession, and her wild turns of phrase, and her insistence on being called Ophelia. She’s a really great main character, with plenty of wit and pizzazz, but also a lot of kindness and goodheartedness which spills out of her (even when she’s trying to be bad to get kicked out). I also really enjoyed her plans for escape, which are laid out at the top of each chapter, with changes added as needed. So funny.
The witch school setting was bound to be a hit with me, but was even better than I’d hoped! The witches sleep in giant cauldrons! There are huge bitey plants in the garden! Best of all, there are magical cats made of witchwood that roam around the school. It’s a really unique setting that reminded me more of Cackle’s Academy than Hogwarts, but remains its own beast. I also really loved the idea of each witch having her own innate hat, which will appear when she’s ready to accept her powers – very cool.
Oh, honestly, this book is just such a rollicking good read. The illustrations, by Jamie Littler, add so much humour and excitement, and really suit Daisy’s narration. I can’t remember when I last had so much fun on a dreary January afternoon. I’ve already ordered the next two from the bookshop! Five out of five magical wooden cats!