Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books
Publication Date: September 6th 2004
Joe is on a train to visit his mother for Christmas when he gets off at the wrong stop-and his life takes a very unexpected turn. With the help of a bewitched broomstick, he is whisked to the home of the Dead-nettle Coven of witches, where he befriends Twiggy, a young witch-in-training. Joe is quickly caught up in a dramatic plan to find a famous missing page from the greatest magic book in history. The witches of England are convinced that the page has fallen into the wrong hands and that if they don't find it soon, a terrible and destructive spell may be cast over the world. With a dash of adventure, a dollop of fun, and a pinch of magic, this book is a timeless charmer.
I hate it when my opinion of one book is so entirely dependent on my opinion of another book by another author -- it feels like cheating in some way. However, it would be completely dishonest if I didn't admit that Harry Potter both makes and breaks Whispering to Witches.
There is nothing revolutionary or groundbreaking here. Dale relies heavily on Dahl, Rowlings, and Disney for her world building and even some of her situational plot advancement. Meeting on special trains. A hidden residence snugged between two everyone can see. An unreliable broom. A battle for pink and blue. A wild ride with an enchanted vehicle.
However, despite all the borrowing, it never feels like stealing. Whispering to Witches is a sweet, fun little story asking "what if?" What if a muggle stumbled into the middle of a mess made by witches and wizards, and knew just enough to recognize it? I think this difference is what makes this book. Joe is just an average Joe (forgive the...is it a pun?) Joe's story takes the wildly exciting and completely unobtainable fantasy of a Harry Potter type world and makes the adventure accessible to even us muggles. I have no doubt that young HP fans would thoroughly enjoy Whispering to Witches.
3 of 5 Stars