Friday, September 2, 2016

Horror List Book Review: The Witches

I'm reading through three lists of best horror with two friends (DeAnna Knippling and M.B. Partlow), posting reviews as we go. (For more information, including a list of the books, see this post.) To see the books I've reviewed so far, you can view the list at the end of this post where I rank them.

This week I'm reviewing The Witches, by Roald Dahl. 

This is one of two Middle Grade books on the list, the other being Coraline, which I've already reviewed. So my review will be pretty simple. 

The Witches was a good scary book for kids. At the very beginning, it introduces witches as real things in a convincing way, saying they look normal, rather than scary. Then it tells the child reader the teacher reading to them is probably a witch. It sets up a scare and casts doubt on the adult reading the book to them. Seems like a good way to give kids a thrill.

I imagine many of you already know the story, whether from the book or the movie. A young boy's grandmother tells him about witches, warning him of signs to look out for. They go on a trip together, and he ends up in a room full of witches, who hate children and can smell them wherever they are. He's caught and turned into a mouse, leading to his grandmother and him taking on a mission to destroy the witches and stop their evil plans.

Though it's a children's book, there are solid scare tactics and writing tricks employed that make it worth a quick read (and it IS a quick read) for horror authors. The story and details are basic, as you would expect, but it's entertaining.

My new rankings:

1. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
2. The Bottoms (Joe R. Lansdale)
3. Coraline (Neil Gaiman)
4. A Choir of Ill Children (Tom Piccirilli)
6. The Year’s Best Fantasy: First Annual Collection (Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling)
7. Those Who Hunt the Night (Barbara Hambly)
9. The Stranger (Albert Camus)
10. Dead in the Water (Nancy Holder)
11. The Witches (Roald Dahl)
12. The Damnation Game (Clive Barker)
13. The Wolf's Hour (Robert McCammon)
14. Berserk (Tim Lebbon)
15. Prime Evil (Douglas E. Winter)
16. Best New Horror, Volume 1 (edited by Stephen Jones and Ramsey Campbell)
17. Flowers in the Attic (V.C. Andrews)
18. The Tomb (F. Paul Wilson)
19. Shadowland (Peter Straub)
20. Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy)
21. The Imago Sequence (Laird Barron)
22. My Soul to Keep (Tananarive Due)
23. Penpal (Dathan Auerbach)
24. World War Z (Max Brooks)
25. From the Dust Returned (Ray Bradbury) 
26. The Red Tree (Caitlin R. Kiernan)
27. In Silent Graves (Gary A. Braunbeck)
28. The Cipher (Kathe Koja)
29. Drawing Blood (Poppy Z. Brite)
30. The Doll Who Ate His Mother (Ramsey Campbell) 
31. Hotel Transylvania (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro)
32. Naked Lunch (William S. Burroughs)

The next book I review will be Needful Things, by Stephen King.

Have you read Roald Dahl books? Which is your favorite? Have you read this one? What did you think? Did you read it as an adult or a kid? Did you read it to your kids (or better yet, students)?

May you find your Muse.


Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I read Needful Things ages ago, and really enjoyed it. I believe they made a movie of it or maybe a made for TV movie? I want to say Ed Harris was in it....

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Shannon - I'm sure I've read a biography/story about his life ... but I haven't read his books - though I gather the London stage versions of his books have been excellent ... I just haven't been to see.

Cheers .. but I see I haven't read any of the others either - obviously not my genre ... glad you enjoyed it - have a happy weekend - Hilary

Mark said...

I love that book! The movie too:)

Andrew Leon said...

I haven't read a Dahl book I liked, so I will probably just skip this one.

Traci Kenworth said...

I will check this out!!

klahanie said...

Hey Shannon,

I never read any of Dahl's books. I note. "The Witches", is number 11 on your list.

Wishing you a peaceful long weekend, Shannon.


Shannon Lawrence said...

I think you're right. I never saw it, but there was one made.

Shannon Lawrence said...

I think I've heard he was an interesting guy, so I bet his bio was a good one.

Shannon Lawrence said...

Love the movie!

Shannon Lawrence said...

I haven't really read him. I did get Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (or is it Willie Wonka) in Spanish to help with learning the language better, though.

Shannon Lawrence said...

He seems interesting, but I haven't read him otherwise, either.