The Witches of Worm by ZILPHA KEATLEY SNYDER | Teen Ink

The Witches of Worm by ZILPHA KEATLEY SNYDER

September 1, 2013

It's really difficult to come across a "good" book and even more challenging to actually finish one from beginning to end. It was not an exception for me. During the many times I checked out a book from the library, I would return it after reading it only half-way. I promised myself that I would finish one this time and decided to go for something more easier and a bit less 'heavy'. My eyes automatically moved towards the newbery award book section and scanned the titles one by one. 'Sign of the Beaver', 'A Wrinkle in Time', the list went on and on until a black covered book with a peculiar title caught my eye; 'The Witches of Worm'. The title itself wasn't that appealing and personally, not being a "fan" of horror stories, the black kitten on the cover didn't really interest me either. However, having no other better alternative, I checked out Snyder's newbery Honor book without high expectations.

The story is written in first voice. Jessica, the main character, is a rather ordinary girl, who's living a miserable life. Her only parent, Joy, is far from motherlike and is always complaining and scolding Jessica. It's no surprise for Jessica to have TV dinners by herself. Her close school friends have abandoned her and her best companion, Brandon, seems to like it better with his new school friends and brand new trumpet. Jessica feels abandoned and lonely. In another one of her gloomy days, Jessica leaves the house after fighting with her mother. She heads for the 'cave'; a magical fort Jessica and Brandon used to share back in the days when they played 'Make Believe'. That where she meets Worm. Worm is a scanty black kitten with unopen eyes and she takes Worm to her neighbor, Mrs. Fortune. Mrs. Fortune mentions that Worm is no ordinary cat and true to her word, strange things happen to Jessica after their encountering. She lies, does bad things, and has horrible head aches. She's sure that she's bewitched but cannot really figure out why. The story unravels as Jessica finds the solution to her problems.

'The Witches of Worm' began in an ordinary tone. I rolled my eyes in boredom as I read on and on about the obvious story of a girl with an only parent, struggling to live her adolescent life. Reading towards the middle, however, I found myself slowly being drawn into the clever and rather spooky world of Zilph Keatley Snyder. My heart thumped wildly along with Jessica's as she heard the mystical voices and I shook my head in worry as Jessica listened to the kitten's bad advice. The storyline, itself, wasn't that outstanding nor the topic of cats and witches but I loved how Snyder changes the book's focus from myth and magic to a story that teaches a worthwhile lesson at the end. The topics of friendship, belief, and speaking the truth is laid out frighteningly, yet thought provokingly. One point that came to me as a bit strange, however, was the fact that Brandon seemed a little bit to 'easy-going' when resolving the misunderstanding with Jessica. I also wished that the mother-daughter relationship between Joy and Jessica were somehow mended or at least a bit hopeful. Other than that, this book was recommendable.

'The Witches of Worm' was far more interesting than I had expected and it gave me both the thrill of reading and a chance to think about excuses, consequences, and the supernatural. This fast-paced story will make you eager for more and you'll find yourself turning the pages in a haste, making you a fan of 'The Witches of Worm'.


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