If you could go back in time and ask me what my favourite book was when I was nine, this would have been it for sure! Whispering to Witches by Anna Dale is the book that got me hooked on fantasy, the book that persuaded to attempt to read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for the second time after giving up on it the first time, the book that truly sparked my childhood fantasies of being a witch, which led to endless hours of fun playing pretend with my sisters. Looking through my old notebooks, all the creative writing I did at that age had a main character named after someone in this book. Indeed, you could probably push it far enough to say that I would not be writing for this website if I hadn’t read this lovely little book, as it is one of the very first books to spark my interest in writing. But enough about me, why is Whispering to Witches so fantastic?
Whispering to Witches follows an average, ordinary boy named Joe Binks on his journey to visit his mother, step-father and sister in Canterbury for Christmas. He isn’t particularly happy about these plans. In fact, he thinks he’s going to have the most boring holiday imaginable. He couldn’t be more wrong. When Joe accidentally gets off the train at the wrong stop, it soon becomes apparent that his Christmas holiday is going to exceed his expectations a hundred fold. Joe ends up in the middle of Dead-Nettle Coven, and despite knowing nothing about witches, Joe quickly recognises and ends up in the middle of a web of witchcraft. Joe discovers the world of witchcraft when it’s in disarray; the famous spell book, Mabel’s spell book, has a page missing and the Dead-Nettle Coven witches must find the page before it gets into the hands of an evil Coven.
Joe befriends a witch-apprentice named Twiggy, and together they play a huge part in looking for the missing page. Of course, it doesn’t take long for the pair to realise that there’s more to this missing page than there is on first appearances. Could they have stumbled into a larger conspiracy? Are they in over their heads? With some exciting broom-rides, spying on rival covens, and a classic witches cat named Squib, there’s little more you could ask for in this magical fantasy novel. Aside from all this magic, there is also the enduring question of whether Joe will get home to his mother’s family for Christmas? This is the kind of book that you will always remember; I’m evidence of this fact as I remember it as fondly as I do Harry Potter, and The Chronicles of Narnia. It is a heart-warming tale of how one young boy can help make a difference in a world he knows very little about and can overcome his fears with the help of a friend. So, if you’re looking for a book to spend your Christmas money on, this would be the one!