‘Wildwitch: Life Stealer (3)’ by Lene Kaaberbøl (Review)

img_5577Once Emily decides she likes a book, there’s no stopping her, so having overcome her reluctance to continue with the Wildwitch series, she was very keen to keep going (even if the books do get a little darker).  Let’s see how my little helper found her third visit to the Wildwitch world, and whether things have changed since her last stay…

Before we start, a gentle warning – there may be spoilers ahead 😉

What’s the name of the book, and who is it by?
The book is called Wildwitch: Life Stealer, and it’s by Lene Kaaberbøl (and it’s translated by Charlotte Barslund, review copy from Pushkin Childrens’ Books).

What’s it about?
Clara, a young wildwitch, starts having weird dreams, but the weirdest part is that she has them while she’s awake.  She goes to see Aunt Isa, who says she has a – dramatic pause – ‘Revenant’!  This is someone who was once alive but died, and now they want to be alive again.  They use a person, and they make them hungry – and eventually they start getting hungry for living things, like cute baby badgers (poor Clara!).

Clara sets off on a journey to find out who the Revenant is and learn about their past with her BWF (Best Wildwitch Friend) Shania.  However, it isn’t going to be easy because no-one wants to talk about the Revenant – and Clara’s getting hungrier all the time…

Did you like it?  Why (not)?
I liked it.  I enjoy the Wildwitch series, and I wanted to find out more about Clara.  I also liked her weird dreams which were a bit like Journeying (where you take an animal’s body, and you can see through the animal’s eyes).

What was your favourite part?
My favourite part was when they found out more about the Revenant, a girl who used to be a Wildwitch.  They learned some useful things, including information about her family and her school, which helped them with their quest.

Would you recommend this book to other boys and girls?  Why (not)?
I would recommend it to boys and girls who like a-bit-scary stories with magic!

Emily, thank you very much.

I won’t add too much here (no, I still haven’t read any of these myself…), but I would like to mention an unexpected consequence of Emily’s rediscovery of the Wildwitch series.  About a year ago, she read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, but by mutual agreement, we decided that the later books might have to wait a while, as Miss Emily wasn’t too keen on the scarier scenes.  However, after giving the Wildwitch novels another try, she was keen to revisit the world of Hogwarts, and having polished off the first three books in a matter of days, she’s just wandered off to start Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – which is the best part of seven-hundred pages long.  She may be some time…

It wouldn’t be stretching the truth too far to find a connection between the two series.  As we saw in the first Wildwitch book, just like Harry, Clara discovers her true nature when coming of (witching) age, and the books describe a young person growing up and trying to work out who they really are – just like the children reading about them.  It’s this gradual broadening of horizons from the world around us to what lies outside the protective boundaries of our home that makes both series (and much children’s literature) interesting and successful.

However, perhaps a more important connection is the way the books introduce a sheltered child to the idea that the world isn’t always such a safe place after all.  Much as we’d like to keep Miss Emily wrapped up in cotton wool for a little longer, the truth is that she’ll be ten this year, and there’s no way to protect her from these things forever.  Both the Wildwitch series and the Harry Potter books feature the darker side of life, something all children need to learn about – eventually.  Here’s hoping that we’ve timed it right and that she’ll get more enjoyment than pain from her reading 😉

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