What does happen to a witch once she’s done with school?
The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol. Read by Elizabeth Knowelden. Scholastic Audiobooks, 2017.
Arianwyn Gribble has flunked her witch’s test. She hopes it isn’t just the influence of her grandmother, who’s on the witch’s council, that’s she’s given a provisional badge and still assigned to the remote border village of Lull, which hasn’t had a resident witch in years. She’s determined to do her best to take care of it anyway, doing her work of banishing dark spirits and making protective charms for the village residents. She finds a friend in the innkeeper’s daughter, but is horrified when it turns out that her long-time rival and tormenter, Gimma, is the mayor’s niece. As it turns out that Lull has serious magical problems, will Arianwyn be able to overcome her self-doubt and Gimma’s obstruction to save the town?
Arianwyn is a charming character (ooh, was that a pun?) and it is really fun thinking about what the day-to-day work of a helpful witch might be – something along the lines of a more institutionalized Kiki’s Delivery Service. There are some major inconsistencies in the underpinnings, though, including the magic ability measurement machine that clearly fails to measure at least two of the characters in the book properly. Why are they using it if it’s so inaccurate? This not-England but British-feeling, fairly modern world also seems populated exclusively by pale-skinned people, which is unfortunate. While it doesn’t hold up to close scrutiny, it’s still a fun, light read, with potential for growth in further books.
This book has been nominated for the Cybils award. This review reflects my opinion, not that of the Cybils committee.