REVIEW: Witch's Business by Diana Wynne Jones

REVIEW: Witch's Business by Diana Wynne JonesWitch's Business by Diana Wynne Jones
Published: Greenwillow Books (1973), Paperback, 224pg
Source: Bought
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Fantasy, Fiction

They're in the "revenge" business Jess and Frank's father has stopped their allowances for four whole months That means that Jess can't go anywhere or do anything with her friends. Worse yet, Frank owes money to Buster Knell, the bully. How can Jess and Frank earn some cash -- fast?

By starting a business, Own Back, Ltd. It specializes in revenge, which every kid needs to seek at some time, they figure. Most don't have the courage themselves. But Jess and Frank do -- for a price

Lots of clients show up. But Jess and Frank soon discover that the revenge business can be pretty complicated, especially when it turns out that there's another one in town -- owned by Biddy Iremonger, the fiercely competitive local witch. (from Goodreads)

I put off reading this for a while, not because I thought it would be bad, but because it’s so short. I tend to enjoy Diana Wynne Jones’s longer books, as they have more space to stuck me into the story and the world they take place in. Shorter books have a harder time doing that, I think. However, though it never fully sucked me into its world, Witch’s Business did quite a lot in such a short space, and it did it very well.

It started off a little differently than her other fantasy books; more like Archer’s Goon than Charmed Life, if that makes sense to anyone other than myself (it helps if you’ve read the books, I suppose). Neither I nor Frank nor Jess knew whether magic existed or not, and even when magic did show up, all of us weren’t sure whether it was really magic or just insanity. It makes a nice change from worlds where magic is a fact of life.

The kids were a lot of fun and the story was entertaining but not overly involved, which is handy in a short book. It’s interesting that the only magic-use in the story was evil; normally DWJ has a good magic-user to balance it out, but all we’ve got here is a potential magic-user who doesn’t really use magic and is only a tertiary character anyway.

There’s some subtle morality lessons in here, plus DWJ’s standards: kids who know more than adults (and adults who refuse to acknowledge what kids are saying/what kids know), kids besting adults (always fun), kids figuring things out by themselves with just a little help from adults, magic cats, unsual enchanted objects, houses with weird dimensions, characters with fitting names (“Iremonger”! Yeah, she’s a baddie) and people with a vague look about them. Well, they’re standards now, but this is DWJ’s first book! It’s nice that she continued the thread, and so on.

Recommended for people who have yet to read any DWJ book (shame!) and for those who already love her!

Read: February 2009

2 thoughts on “REVIEW: Witch's Business by Diana Wynne Jones”

  1. I had put off reading this book because of its length, too – but I’m glad that I read it, now that I have 😀 I do love that this book is more Archer’s Goon than Charmed Life, although both are among my favourites by DWJ!

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