“My Darling,’ she said at last, ‘ are you sure you don’t mind being a mouse for the rest of your life?’
‘I don’t mind at all,’ I said. ‘It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like so long as somebody loves you.”
(The Witches, Roald Dahl)
It is almost a given that a story by Roald Dahl is going to be strong, well written and surprisingly creative. That doesn’t mean, however, that The Witches doesn’t have a few of its own particularly fine points. First and foremost, I appreciated that the main character never gets his delayed-action-mouse-maker spell reversed. He spends the entirety of his life as a mouse with his beloved grandmother and has not a complaint in the world. How many stories have you read where a character simply accepts their fate under a dark spell? Mostly, if a spell is cast, the majority of the book is dedicated to getting it reversed – and one only has to look at examples like the recent Reckless to see how boring that can get.
Secondly, Roald Dahl gives a complete picture of the character’s lives after the book concludes. The ending almost changes the entire book into a preamble for the adventures the new mouse and his grandmother will have. The reader can see in their mind’s eye exactly how the 9 remaining years will go: they are full of adventures, close-calls and smoky black cigars. Too many stories leave off just when the real story gets meaty – just as the couple gets married or the criminal is caught. With The Witches, Roald Dahl strikes the perfect balance between giving away too much and leaving the imagination just what it needs.
Beverage: Since this book goes perfectly with the pre-Halloween season, as does hot apple cider, I see no reason why the two should not be mixed.