Title: The Worst Witch (The Worst Witch #1)
Author: Jill Murphy
Title: The Worst Witch Strikes Again (The Worst Witch #2)
Author: Jill Murphy
I’m going to review two or three of the books at a time because they’re so short and sweet. Much like these reviews are going to be.
In the first volume of the series, The Worst Witch, Mildred Hubble is in her first year at Miss Cackle’s Academy for witches, where she struggles through the classes and tasks set before her. Oh she tries her hardest, but somehow nothing ever goes right for her, and it doesn’t help that she ends up as enemies with Ethel, the best and favourite student in her year.
In the second volume, The Worst Witch Strikes Again, Mildred’s friendship with Maud is under considerable strain when Mildred is tasked with overseeing and helping the new student Enid. And boy, does Enid have a knack for trouble. Poor Mildred, she just won’t have a quiet term, will she?
Mildred is a darling little thing and though she is quite clumsy and forgetful, she really does try her hardest. I really enjoyed the two books, they were very entertaining and Mildred’s shenanigans are highly entertaining. They’re rather short, but that’s to be expected since they’re for children between the ages 5 and 9. We don’t get to see much of the school life, but again that is to be expected. In a way, Mildred is quite the Neville Longbottom of her time and it just endears her to me even more. She’s a very good friend and resourceful, even if her plans do backfire often. The characters are all rather lovely, really, even Mildred’s strict form mistress. I expected some clichés and flat characterisation, but I was surprised that that was not the case as there is more to them than meets the eye.
The writing is easy to understand, even though these particular books are from 1974 and 1980 respectively. (I’m not saying that the writing from 40 years ago might be difficult to understand, but vocabularies change and really the only word I had to look up was “gymslip.” I’d recommend these books to anyone with an interest young children’s literature or young children of their own, as they are very lovely short anecdotes of the life of a truly terrible witch student and terribly entertaining.
On a side note, these books were turned into a television series in 1998, also titled The Worst Witch. I used to watch it when I was younger and it is also very entertaining and rather close to the books as far as the characters go. They are absolutely perfect in that regard.