Monday, January 4, 2010

The White Witch by Janet Graber - ADVISABLE

Graber, Janet. The White Witch, 145 pgs. Roaring Brook Press, 2009

Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (descriptions of death by disease and suicide)

In 1665 in the parish of Lerchlade, when King Charles sat on the throne, Gwendoline Riston, her father's angel here on earth, is looked at with suspicion and called the White Witch by the villagers because of her ability with animals, her unnatural white skin and hair, and her skill at healing. She doesn't notice much when her father is there and because of her friendship with Jack, an orphan boy taken in by his father. When Jack leaves to apprentice in Oxford and trusts Gwen with his declaration of love for another village girl, her world is rocked. Then the villagers ignore her father's warning about an approaching plague, and she is forced to hide with a secret chamber in the village church while he leaves to find her brother. Though removed from the plague, she is trapped there as a witness to the death of the villagers even while they blame her for their misfortunes.

This story captures the feel of a world where everyone knows everyone, but superstitions drive action and prospects are limited. This well-realized historical fiction is exciting and suspenseful.

Reviewed by P.K. Foster, MS teacher-librarian.

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