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Witch's Business

3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  758 ratings  ·  38 reviews
They're in the revenge business!

Jess and Frank's father has stopped their allowances for four whole months! That means that Jess can't go anywhere or do anything with her friends. Worse yet, Frank owes money to Buster Knell, the bully. How can Jess and Frank earn some cash—fast?

By starting a business, Own Back, Ltd. It specializes in revenge, which every kid needs to seek...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published September 25th 2012 by Greenwillow Books (first published 1973)
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Is it possible for there to be too many ideas in a novel? Especially in a children’s story of barely two hundred pages? In Diana Wynne Jones’ very first children’s novel images and themes and borrowings and emotions all come out fizzing and popping, like fireworks that one can gasp at while scarcely having time to reflect before the next effect bursts into view.

The book is dedicated to one Jessica Frances, and what better compliment can an author pay to a dedicatee than including them, however o...more
I didn't realize this book is actually from 1974! Had a hard time with the weird British kid's slang, but am fully prepared with phases like "curried-tonsil scum" and "disemboweled" (a common adjective in here!) and "stomach-juicing".

Oh, and it's about revenge. And how it's bad. Bad revenge. Bad. Don't do it.
"Frank and Jess thought Own Back Ltd. was an excellent idea when they first invented it. Three days later, they were not so sure" (1). That's how this book starts, and reading those sentences, you know you're in for a lesson-learning sort of book, but this being Diana Wynne Jones, it's not too heavy-handed. Own Back Ltd. starts over Easter break, when Frank and Jess are bemoaning their lack of pocket money: they broke a chair, and their pocket money's been stopped. It's Jess who thinks of it fir...more
When I was on my spree of reading Jones' books in the year or so after she died, I remember seeing Witch's Business on the shelf at the library and avoiding it. It has such an ugly cover and the title was stupid. Now, having picked it up at a book sale for 25¢, I find that this was her first children's book. Her first! And retitled for this post-Howl's-movie reprint for the American market. For the record, Mrs. Publisher, Wilkin's Tooth is a much more intriguing title.

Anyway. Even for a prototyp...more
It's taken me forever to get round to reading this book - something about it always put me off. For some reason it's always struck me as not really being a Diana Wynne Jones book (even before I read that she felt the same way). I don't know if it was the blurb or the title or the cover or what, but something about it has always been offputting and profoundly unmemorable.

That said, I enjoyed it far more than I expected to. It's an interesting mix of 70s childrens' fiction expectations - the self-...more
Harold Ogle
An interesting read, and at the same time a very enjoyable one, because Diana Wynne Jones wrote so well. Some claim this to be Jones' first novel. I have no idea, but it was written in 1973, so there's a lot of strange antiquated cultural references that one must wade through in the first couple of chapters in order to get into the thick of the story, because Jones wrote a story here that was contemporary to the time and place of 1973 England.

This means that there were weird British terms like "...more
I always love her books. This one reads a little more like a children's story than others, but still really good.
One of DWJ's first novels and it definitely is missing some of the charming sparkle of her later work. This felt a lot like Black Maria, actually--a bit too dark and serious thematically to fit the tone of the story and characters. Unlike Black Maria though, the cast was larger and just full of delightful characters. I loved Jess and Frankie the most.

Definitely recommend this one, but not as enthusiastically as, say, Dalemark (for darker themes) or Chrestomanci (for children getting up to their...more
I should note that I have the British version, which is called Wilkins' Tooth. First few times I read it I wasn't particularly impressed, but the last re-read I quite enjoyed. Not her most in-depth plot or world building, but I liked her characters a lot. She makes them come across quite clearly without resorting to lots of description. And I still love the "colourful language". Chartreuse with purple polka dots!
A simple story that still manages to loop back on itself in surprising ways. Two siblings start a revenge business, but they hadn't counted on two things: being contracted by their intended victims and competing with a vicious witch.

The interactions between all the neighborhood children is fun, and local bully Buster uses hysterically harmless language ("vampire-stomach," "tomato-puke") as profanity. Unfortunately, the plot doesn't aspire to any great heights, and deux ex machina power the stor...more
An Odd1
Funny, fast, easy to read, exotic flavor of UK village where witches are real and Knickerbocker Glories are ice-cream sundaes. The frustrations of children who see adults manipulated but can do nothing. Mucky marsh, smelly swamp stickily globs on plimsoll sneakers and burns eyes. Hide out in prickly gorse bushes and run run run from bullies. Can tiny eyeball charms fend off the Evil Eye? Like Agatha Christie and J.K. Rowling, US publishers monkey with titles, formerly "Wilkin's Tooth", and shoul...more
Michael Behr
A brilliant kids book (and I mean little kids, not young adults... I wouldn't necessarily recommend this for anyone above 12 years old), Diana Wynne Jones draws upon classic fairy tales such as Puss In Boots to put together a charming story told by a master storyteller. DWJ's books stand out not just for their great plot, but also for their language. Just because the story line is watered down for younger readers (or listeners, in my son's case), her writing is at the top of its game.

American re...more
Althea Ann
This is one of Diana Wynne Jones' earlier books. (It was originally published in 1973, under the title 'Wilkins' Tooth')
It's definitely aimed at a younger audience than many of her books - it's a kids' book, probably for people around 10. But I didn't feel that it had the 'condescending' feeling that I complained of in 'Dogsbody' at all. I admit that I enjoyed it!
In it, a group of kids decide to make some pocket money by going into the revenge business. Soon this leads them to tangle with the to...more
This is a bit of a curiosity. It's the first YA book by Diana Wynne Jones, who would go on to be one of the all-time greats, with fans like Neil Gaiman. This book certainly showcases her imagination, and almost ever page has a clever idea or a fun turn of phrase. Sadly, it's dated a bit, and it's filled with British-isms that non-Brits may find a bit off-putting. Still, it's a fun read, with a memorable cast of characters and a nice (but not preachy) message.
Melissa Proffitt
Diana Wynne Jones's first juvenile fantasy novel is in many ways her first novel, if you look at Changeover as a sort of extended writer's exercise. Changeover is good enough, but with Witch's Business we get to see DWJ apply everything she learned about characterization and style to a completely different audience and genre. What starts as a cynical money-making venture by Frank and Jess (get paid to get revenge for other people) ends up being much more serious when they encounter Biddy Iremong...more
Not my favorite one of hers, it was harder for me to follow and i didn't lose myself in it.
Michelle Licci
An amazing magical novel for all ages! Diana Wynne Jones, as I expected, is an absolute genius with a spectacular imagination. The plot, the characters, the elements - all brilliant! It was a short read but it was quite pleasant as well! I truly enjoyed delving into the adventure of redeeming the many actions that go amiss as well as meeting such interesting characters.
I enjoyed this book. I found the vernacular a little odd. I’ve read quite a few books by British authors, but still it seemed odd. Of course, it was written in the 70’s and American books written in the 70’s have an odd-sounding vernacular, too. It was short but fairly fun to read.

Recommended if you like other Diana Wynne Jones books.
A quick, fun and pleasant read. Just what I needed before diving into Connie Willis' Doomsday Book. Perfect.

This is a Diana Wynne Jones that I'd never read before and while it is definitely a kids' book, this adult still enjoyed the read.
Lacking pocket money, two kids start a revenge business to get your own back. And discover that revenge is complicated and the implications convoluted, and a witch has decided that they are competition . . .

Fun and a bit quirky, although I found the ending somewhat unsatisfying. It seemed a bit easy and the resolution unconvincing.
I didn't actually finish this, so I should give it two stars by my rating system. But it's not a bad book, just not what I was looking for. Way too young --- it felt like it was written for a younger audience than the Diana Wynne Jones books I've loved so much. I suspect I would have loved it when I read Five Children and It.
Maureen E
This one definitely read younger. I mean, technically I think most of DWJ’s books are in the MG/YA category, but this one felt like it was meant to be there. I’ve found myself enjoying her older books more recently, with the exception of Chrestomanci. This one is also a little more “magicky” than usual. [Mar. 2010]
Diana Sandberg
No idea how I happened to miss this one, it was originally published in 1973, but it was new to me, although I am a huge DWJ fan. And it's just as great as nearly all her work. I love the creepy atmosphere she creates, and the child point of view is very real. Terrific.
Oct 24, 2010 123aly3 rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 3rd or 4th grade readers
It was a read, and that was just about it. It has an ok start, but in the middle and end gets to be a little confusing. It is good for about a 3rd to 4th grade reader.
K.V. Johansen
This is actually Wilkins' Tooth. I'm not sure why only the American edition appears here as an option. Ah well, it's a great book, whatever you want to call it.
Somewhat lacking, but since it's DWJ's first book for young readers, according to the jacket flap, I'll allow that (nice of me, isn't it?;) ).
Funny, I've never read this before. You can tell it was her first. Pretty sure this must be the one titled Wilkin's Tooth in the UK.
This early novel is not Jones's best work, but not too bad either. However, I'd recommend you read her other books instead.
Lovely. Usual confuzzled magic cobwebbing over a story of british kids and their misadventures. :D
Good, but not worth reading again. It's funny how reading Wynne Jones is so hit-and-miss.
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Diana Wynne Jones was the author of more than thirty critically acclaimed fantasy stories, including the Chrestomanci series and the novels Howl's Moving Castle and Dark Lord of Derkholm.

For Diana Wynne Jones's official autobiography, please see
More about Diana Wynne Jones...
Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle, #1) Castle in the Air (Howl's Moving Castle, #2) The Lives of Christopher Chant (Chrestomanci, #2) Charmed Life (Chrestomanci, #1) House of Many Ways (Howl's Moving Castle, #3)

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