The Witch’s Boy

Sometimes, a book is not merely a book. It is a Book.

The Witch’s Boy is, unfortunately, not one of those books. But maybe that’s okay.

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The Witch’s Boy

  • Author: Kelly Barnhill
  • Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
  • Year: 2014
  • Genre Vibe: Fantasy, adventure story, bandits and thieves and kings and magic
  • At a Glance: Ned’s brother died that day they tried to build a raft to take them to the sea. Ever after, Ned can’t speak without a stammer, read without the letters flying off the page, or smile. Until Plot Stuff starts to happen, that is.

If there’s one thing I can’t resist, it’s excitement. So when the Usual Suspect (aka Snifferblog) practically exploded over this book (he’s fine, by the way), I couldn’t help but see what all the fuss was about.

The catch: I cannot do middle grade.

The exception: This book is not something that belongs in that section.

The worst part: This book truly belongs in that section.

Let’s face it: The Witch’s Boy is beautiful, on the outside. Cover-for-cover, it’s amazing. It promises depth, color, and richness. It promises story. It’s incredibly pleasing to hold in your hands. The problem? That’s most of the reason I was able to finish it at all. The Witch’s Boy is…dull.

Here is a thing you probably know about me: I enjoy books that spill their freaking guts. This is a thing that follows all of my favorite books around.

However, it is not a requirement for a good book. This facet of literature is so subjective and far-fetched that it’s not even something that can be adequately talked about. And if every book were like that–well, that’s pretty obviously a bad idea.

The Witch’s Boy does not spill much of anything besides some blood. It is, for a middle grade, kind of intense. But it’s more the idea of intensity than anything else. That’s the thing that stuck with me out of this book–the idea of a lot of things in here are truly incredible. The magic genuinely scared me at times. The ill-raised boy-king broke my heart. The way the main characters grew up was fantastic.

But I only saw it happen. I didn’t really get to experience it. The atmosphere that, I think, is an inherent quality for a YA story wasn’t there, because this isn’t YA. And while I think the story suffered for its sort of underrepresentation, so to speak–this book was great.

The ingenuity of Witch’s Boy is something I haven’t seen in a long time. The bending of character tropes, the ideas behind it all, the feeling that Barnhill truly knew what she was talking about. It all made for a truly wonderful journey that I think a lot of people can get excited about.

So while I may have merely been an observer for The Witch’s Boy–I’m not the person this book was written for: it was written for people like Snifferblog. I’m proud to know that, and glad to have it on my shelf.

Because, really–it’s easy on the eyes.

So, overall:

  • Rating: 3/5 stars
  • Recommended to: Adventurers of all ages that can see the beauty in simplicity and have a roaring imagination to fill in the gaps.
  • Lasting Impression: Oh the age of the stones. Oh the things they have seen.

 

If you didn’t like this post for either

a.) Its overuse of colons and em-dashes

b.) Its opinions

Check out Snifferblog’s, because it is superior.

 

 

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I’ll Give You The Sun

Sometimes, friends recommend books.

Other times, friends throw books at you until you catch them.

Still others, friends leave you in the dust while they read a new book, and you’re forced to no longer be left behind.

I think I’ll Give You the Sun was a combination of all three of these tactics.

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I’ll Give You The Sun

  • Author: Jandy Nelson
  • Publisher: Dial
  • Genre vibe: Contemporary, with superstitious and inspirational leanings.
  • At a Glance: NoahandJude has been what these two twins have been their whole lives. Then tragedy strikes, and it’s one thing after another as we follow the siblings through their pitfalls and otherwise, watching either of them trying to figure out their individual issues.

Alright. It has to be done.

*Obi-Wan voice*

This is not the book you’re looking for.

This book is absolutely none of what I was expecting it to be. To be fair, I didn’t research what it truly is very much beyond reading the synopsis a few times. I’ve wanted to read this book since it came out a couple years ago, and kind of forgot every now and again what it was even about beyond twins, romance, and art.

So when the superstitious–even supernatural–elements, and the sheer eccentricity of the side characters happened, when it got as imaginative and out-there as it did, well…I admit I was thrown off and even a little put off, even though those are all things that I actively look for in books.

None of this is to say that I didn’t enjoy this book. No, I severely enjoyed this book. It was incredible, Jude’s voice was amazing, Noah’s character arc was satisfying, Oscar was beautiful. The setup and structure of this book was amazing. It’s everything people told me it was.

I just spent most of the book trying to reconcile the idea of it I had in my head with what it really ended up being, and what it felt like it was missing.

My favorite kinds of books are the ones where their soul thing speaks to mine. I’m pretty sure that’s what most people look for in a book. There are books where there’s an obvious one that can apply to almost everyone, and those books are quite often masterpieces.

But then there’s the quieter ones, where the soul thing is very obviously there, but can only apply to the people it chooses.

This book is of the latter type. And I feel a bit privileged to know the soul thing and see it belong to other people rather than keep it for myself. Watching this book happen to other people is, I think, one of the better parts of reading it.

So overall:

  • Rating: 5/5 stars
  • Recommended to: Lots of people. Just so long as you don’t go into this expecting codependent siblings.
  • Lasting Impression: The beach that night, Jude. The way you couldn’t see far enough that other night. Kissing him, Noah. Kissing him, Jude. Stone stone stone.