‘Wildwitch: Wildfire (1)’ by Lene Kaaberbøl (Review)

IMG_5494While I’ve read a fair few books for this year’s Women in Translation Month, I’m not the only one in my household who’s on board.  My little helper has once again (after receiving a new title from Pushkin Children’s Books) decided to contribute a post, so today we’re off to Denmark for an exciting kids’ adventure – watch out for witches…

What’s the name of the book, and who is it by?
The book is called Wildwitch: Wildfire, and it’s by Lene Kaaberbøl (and it’s translated by Charlotte Barslund).

What’s it about?
It’s about this girl called Clara, and she’s very shy – and one day a cat attacks her, and there’s blood everywhere!  She has to go to her Aunt Isa and learn Wildwitch Self-Defence 101, but one day when her Aunt isn’t at home, the Chimera (an evil used-to-be-Wildwitch) attacks the house and kidnaps Clara!  After that, she has to go through a series of ancient trials in court to prove she’s telling the truth and become a proper wildwitch.

Did you like it?  Why (not)?
Some bits were OK, and some bits were a little violent (Death Death Blood Blood!), but overall I liked it.

What was your favourite part?
When Clara went through all of the challenges and kicked Chimera’s butt 😉

Was it difficult to read?
No 🙂

Would you recommend this book to other boys and girls?  Why (not)?
I’d definitely recommend this book to kids who are obsessed with all of that killing and stuff like that (even if the characters just talk about it more than do it!).

Emily, thank you very much.

Wildfire is the first in the Wildwitch series of books by Danish writer Lene Kaaberbøl, and it has definite hints of a Harry-Potter type of experience.  When Clara is attacked and scratched by a cat, her mother is extremely concerned, more so than the young girl would have expected, and when she begins to feel ill, her mother takes her off to see Aunt Isa – who isn’t best pleased at her sister:

Towards Mum her voice was completely different – so sharp that you could cut yourself on it.
“You should have come much sooner.”
“How could I?” Mum protested.  “It only happened this morning.”
“I know.  But she turned twelve in March, didn’t she?”
It wasn’t exactly a difficult question, but Mum didn’t reply.
pp.25/6 (Pushkin Children’s Books, 2016)

Gradually it becomes clear that Clara is a special girl, and the time has come for her to learn to deal with her fate.

But what if she doesn’t want to?  The world of the wildwitches is a dark and dangerous one,WITM Logo and with the dangerous Chimera after her, Clara has to go through a double ordeal of growing up quickly in public while proving that she is worthy of the title of wildwitch.  There are many dangers for her to face, and a little blood is shed (perhaps a little too much for my delicate little reader…) – will the frightened girl be able to pass the test she is set?

Wildfire is an entertaining story, and it’s obviously meant to introduce the world of the wildwitches and set up a series.  Pushkin have so far released four of these books, and while Emily wasn’t overly keen at first, I suspect she’s interested enough to give the next books a try.  Once again, it’s a lovely book, with Rohan Eason’s occasional sketches supplementing Barslund’s text.  If you have a little one who enjoys adventurous stories, this might just be a series for them to discover 🙂

WITMonth Bonus Shot – Number 9
Welcome to the ninth of my #WITMonth Bonus Shot features, in which I suggest some further reading ideas connected to the post (and country) of the day – links, where applicable, are to my reviews:)

Today’s bonus shot feature is a little different as we’re looking not at a country but at some of the children’s books Emily has reviewed over the past couple of years.  For last year’s Women in Translation Month, she tried Tove Jansson’s The Moomins and The Great Flood, and even though the Moomins series dates back a while, modern children should still enjoy them.

However, most of the books my little helper has tried have come from Pushkin, and there have been a couple of others by female writers.  Eva Furnari’s Fuzz McFlops was a funny little story of a picky rabbit finally finding love, but one of Emily’s real favourites was Annie M.G. Schmidt’s The Cat Who Came in off the Roof.  In this one, a cat turns into a woman and turns the life of the man who ends up helping her upside down.  Emily is also in the middle of Argentine writer María Elena Walsh’s An Elephantasy (and enjoying it!), so watch out for a review of that in the near future.

As mentioned, there are three more books in Kaaberbøl’s series, and Pushkin also has another range of books which might appeal to Wildwitch fans.  One of their biggest successes is Anne Plichota’s Oksa Pollock series, and while I think Emily might have to wait a little while before trying those, they certainly look like books that pre-teen kids would enjoy.  If you’re interested in the sound of these, please check out the Pushkin Children’s Books range – there are plenty of great reads there, whether by female or male writers 🙂

One thought on “‘Wildwitch: Wildfire (1)’ by Lene Kaaberbøl (Review)

  1. This is a lovely review! How wonderful to have Emily reading along. And also to be introduced to Pushkin’s children’s range, as I was previously unaware of its existence!


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