THE WITCH’S BOY by Kelly Barnhill

The Witch’s Boy by Kelly Barnhill was a selection for one of my ever-expanding book discussion groups, the one for parents and kids. At 372 pages, it was a long read-aloud, one that I didn’t quite finish before the discussion. In order to finish it, my two boys, 11 and almost 9, and I took turns while the others were eating, driving, doing a puzzle, and more, so it became a fun endeavor for the three of us.

The book starts off with sadness, so this is not light fantasy for kids. There is a dead child in the first, very short chapter. But there is also a living one, the witch’s boy of the title, Ned. This is his story, as he struggled to live with the blessing and burden that his mother bestows on him with all good intentions. The story switches among many characters, including Ned’s counterpart, Aine (pronounced ANya), the bandit king’s daughter. There are sentient stones, insubordinate magic, a good queen with bad relatives, a bad king of Duunin (pronounced duhNIN), strange legends about how scary the forest is, and much more. This book is chock full of great characters and images and ideas, and rolls along at a ripping pace through to the end, which we all three found rich and satisfying.

Comments are closed.