Received from NetGalley for review.
Diary of Anna the Girl Witch is a lovely introduction to the world of Anna Sophia, who finds out on her thirteenth birthday that she is a witch. The story is told using diary entries, first person narrative and pictures, and I think it will appeal greatly to middle grade readers – it’s quite a sweet story but there is a touch of darkness within it that helps give it some depth. I’m not sure how many books Max Candee intends to write but I can see the world of Anna spanning multiple adventures.
The book is set in Geneva and centres on Anna, an orphan with a mysterious past – she was found as a baby in the Russian wilds amongst a family of bears and raised by her Uncle Misha until an inheritance allowed her to be sent to an orphanage and school in Geneva. She discovers she’s a witch on her thirteenth birthday, having been left a letter, an ornamental hand called Squire and a picture of Baba Yaga by her mother. In finding her magic she soon discovers that there is something not quite right with Irvigne Manor, the home of super rich Marie and Andre Montmorency and their collection of orphans. I found the plot somewhat predictable, and the villains of the story a little bland, but I don’t think this will be as much of an issue with younger readers.
The prose is quite simple but I think Candee has captured Anna’s voice really well; he has created a story that blends the trials and tribulations of becoming a teenager, Russian folklore, and witchcraft wonderfully. I loved the focus on friendship throughout the book – Anna’s concerns with the Montmorency’s are driven by her love for her friends that have been adopted and her desire to protect them. This is a delightful little read that will be loved by many, even if some of the characters were a little cliché, and I found it to be full of old school charm and innocence, despite the darker aspects.
Read: March 30th 2016