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The Witches of Worm: 12/29/09
I love The Egypt Game by Zipha Keatley Snyder and decided to read The Witches of Worm when I saw it at my local library.
The Witches of Worm is set in San Francisco, presumably contemporary to when it was published (1972). Jessica lives in an apartment pushed up against a hillside (fairly common in parts of the City) and spends much of her time in the care of a neighbor. Her mother meanwhile is working multiple jobs so Jessica is left to her own devices. She decides to explore the nearby hillside and finds a cave where she stays well into the night. She also finds a nearly newborn kitten whom she takes home even though she doesn't especially like cats and isn't looking for a pet.
Worm as she and her mother decide to call the kitten, requires all of her attention (as all newborns do) and thrives under her reluctant care. Unfortunately he doesn't seem like any normal cat. He doesn't play. He doesn't purr. He just stares. And soon Jessica believes she can hear him talking to her and demanding she do horrible things to people.
Witches of Worm could have been a fascinating middle grades horror and psychological drama. It had some moments but mostly it was just a sad and oddly paced novel about a broken cat who had been taken from his mother too young and a similarly damaged tween who doesn't have friends her own age nor the love and attention she desires from her mother. She sees the solution to her problems in the form of an exorcism on Worm whom she believe is trying to make her into a witch.
If you've read The Crucible you will find familiar themes in The Witches of Worm but set in modern times and without the mass hysteria of a town turned against the misfits of its society. With all the emotional build up in the novel the climax and resolution were lacking payoff for me.
Comment #1: Tuesday, December, 29, 2009 at 19:20:20
Wow, I like your frankness when reviewing the novel. And you don't give in too much spoilers, so even this no being a "wonderful" novel, so to say, you got me intrigued. Nice review! :-)
Comment #2: Friday, January 8, 2010 at 18:33:13
I think I just wasn't in the mood for the novel. It was a lot darker and angrier than The Egypt Game.