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The Witches of Worm
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The Witches of Worm

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  1,526 ratings  ·  144 reviews
Jessica has read enough books to know that her cat Worm must be a witch’s cat. He’s cast a spell on her, but to whom can she turn? After all, no one will believe that Worm has bewitched her . . . or worse,
Paperback, 183 pages
Published February 1st 1986 by Yearling (first published 1972)
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Charlotte's Web by E.B. WhiteElla Enchanted by Gail Carson LevineBecause of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamilloHatchet by Gary PaulsenPrincess Academy by Shannon Hale
Newbery Medal Honor Books
84th out of 312 books — 291 voters
The Dark is Rising by Susan CooperTuck Everlasting by Natalie BabbittA Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'EngleDragonsong by Anne McCaffreyThe Cuckoo Tree by Joan Aiken
Children's Fantasy of the 1970s
18th out of 125 books — 13 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,518)
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Jan 13, 2011 Mariel rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: familiars sick of being caught under the booted heels of witches
Recommended to Mariel by: the academy awards
I read the award-winning (why does this fact stick out in my mind? I've never given any Rhett Butler damns about awards. Probably because I've never won any) The Witches of Worm a long ass time ago. Basing this on my memories of a long ass time ago I'd say it was ultimately not THAT great (not because of expectations built up from awards, I swear).

I'm thinking of it now 'cause I feel paranoid and crazy like the young chick in this book. I was lonely and had emotional problems like her (ahem not
Apr 28, 2015 Carmen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
First-class, A1 horror novel.

There are so many levels to this.

Jessica goes out to a cave that she likes to play in. It's night. She's reading a book about the Salem witch trials. She hears a scratching, scuttling sound in the cave and discovers an abandoned kitten. It's hairless, eyeless, ugly and silent. She tries to give it to the local cat lady, who refuses to take care of it - it needs to be fed every two hours and helped to eliminate its waste.

Jessica hates the kitten and is disgusted with

It's weird to reread this an adult because as a kid (this is true of many of Snyder's stories) it seems ambivalent whether there is actually magical stuff going on. Is her cat [gasp] a witch?! As adult it it obvious that this is an abused kid projecting crazy, rage-filled fantasies on her equally unlucky and abused kitten. Knowing what the score is makes it more disturbing, not less.
This is an awesome children's horror story, which is really and truly frightening and psychological. Worm, the possessed cat, makes for both an object of sympathy and a terrifying villain. When the main character finds him, he is so pathetic, that you feel sorry for him, even as the main character is annoyed at all the extra work she has taken on to keep him alive. When he changes, it is a frightening change, the thing that makes it truly eerie is the subtly of it. This is probably the first sto ...more
This book scared the bejeezus out of me when I first read it in middle school. It didn't scare me as badly this time (thank goodness; last time I had to sleep with the lights on and locked my cat out of my room for two days), but it still is an incredibly creepy novel. It concerns Jessica, a lonely and angry girl who finds a blind, nearly hairless newborn kitten, and ends up raising it with the help of her catlady neighbor. Although she feels compelled to care for the cat, she finds it gross and ...more
"We all invite our own devils, and we must exorcise our own."

UGH THIS BOOK. You guys, the thing is that ZKS is awesome. I mean, The Egypt Game? The Headless Cupid? Like, come on, just ridiculously great. SO. This is one where reading it as a kid and reading it as an adult are wildly different experiences. Since I've recently read The Fever and Conversion, this book sprang to mind and I reread it and guys, it's so weird and awesome.

(view spoiler)
"Belief in mysteries—all manner of mysteries—is the only lasting luxury in life."

The Witches of Worm, P. 116

"But now and then, beneath the outer numbness, something stirred, like a living pain waiting for the anesthetic to wear away."

The Witches of Worm, P. 101

This book is one of the most pleasant surprises in literature that I have had in quite some time.

The Witches of Worm is a wonderfully smooth, completely enjoyable read, marked with evocatively descriptive language and enchantingly c
Luke Baldock
A cat on the cover, of course I'm going to read it. Witches of Worm is a Newberry Honor Book, that follows a 12 year old girl named Jessica. Jessica lives with her mum but is usually left alone as her mum must work or goes on dates. Recently she has been ostracised from her closest friends, as they have developed new friendships. One evening she finds an abandoned newborn kitten. She doesn't like cats, but feels a certain obligation to help it. After a while, she starts becoming paranoid of the ...more
An awesomely creepy book from Snyder, who I love for her unique treatment of the supernatural; always leaving it realistic, ambigious, and not always totally evil.

Jessica feels abandoned; her glamourous mother is gone most of the time, her (former) best friend seems to have forgotten her, and she spends most of her days alone, bothered only by the nosy landlady.

Then Jessica finds Worm, a tiny black kitten, in a cave on a stormy night. He doesn't behave anything like a normal kitten; he wails, he
I picked this up because I loved The Egypt Game as a kid, I haven't read anything else by Zilpha Keatley Snyder and I have thing for 1970s Newbery Honor books. The main character shares my name (how very 1970s) and the central storyline is about an ugly, evil cat she sort of accidentally adopts. In a very childish way, this made me really connect with Jessica, as I also have a sort of ugly, definitely evil cat who I occasionally resent and despise and I'm pretty certain he's got a demonic posses ...more
July 13, 2013
Although presented with evidence of having read The Witches of Worm when I was eight years old, I couldn't remember a thing about it. When I looked it up online and saw that it was about a cat appearing to "possess" a girl (say what?!) I decided it was time for a reread.

I always liked Zilpha Keatley Snyder's books, especially The Egypt Game, which I've reread every few years since I first devoured it in elementary school. In contrast, when I reread The Witches of Worm a few days ago
Linda Lipko
I image this 1973 Newbery honor book would give youngsters the heebie jeebies and it might take a more mature YA to sift through the overtones of paranormal to the fact that the author is making a strong statement about those who seem to blame others or outside forces for their own character defects.

Jessica is more than a latch key child, she emotionally neglected by a selfish, immature and young mother. Astute in knowing she is not wanted, Jessica suffers dramatically and acts out viciously.

Rob Boley
I picked up a copy of this book for my daughter at a thrift store and ended up reading it because I was looking for a quick read. Plus, I like to share books with her. For me, one of the most interesting aspects of the book is the main character, Jessica. She's not an entirely likable protagonist, in that she does some backhanded things and isn't altogether honest with her friends, her family, or even herself. But that's part of what makes her so compelling: the reader is rooting for her to bett ...more
For all that it's short and could possibly have dug deeper, this was pretty amazing.

Jessica is the kind of person who can say, "My life sucks," and it wouldn't be wangsty. Her mother is always either working or going out. All of Jessica's friends have ceased to be her friends. Even Brandon, the weird-cool kid who is was her friend for forever.

Then she picks up a kitten. It needs a lot of attention, as infants do. It's also unsettlingly ugly, so she names it Worm. Worm doesn't play and he is just
This is a great, spooky book for children to read over the Halloween season. I can't remember exactly (I'll have to reread it), but there was one particular part in it that scared me to death. I just remember shutting the book to find my parents. After this, I tried to find and read every book Zilpha Keatley Snyder ever wrote.
I was able to enjoy this more with the author's note in this version about inviting one's own devils and needing to exorcise them ourselves.

Previously read January 29, 2009.
Kate Hastings
Sep 15, 2007 Kate Hastings rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: grades 5-7
Shelves: scaryjfic
A possessed cat causes lots of bad things to happen. TOTALLY creepy.
Auntie J
Kindle Daily Deal 7/30/14 $1.99.
Clare O'Beara
This is a chilling story for older children and young adults, about a lonely teenaged girl, Jessica and the kitten she raises without wanting it, called Worm (you can tell she didn't like cats). At least Worm is some company for her in the apartment block, since she has elderly neighbours and a mostly absent mother trying to pick up a new husband, and she has quarrelled over a stupid matter, as teens do, with her friend Brandon.

As the months go by and Jessica reads about the Salem witchcraft tr
I'm not sure how many stars to give this book. The writing is good, the characters are well developed, but the story is quite disturbing. I worry that this book will cause people to be mean to cats like Jessica is to her cat. Although she nurses this cat from an abandoned newborn, she is so mean to it.

I don't like the occult theme of this book either. I find it all so creepy. I didn't like the neighbor playing into Jessica's delusion. Jessica needed to be hospitalized before she really hurt som
This book started out a little slow, but quickly caught my interest. In a way I prefer the older style kids books to the pop-culture fiction of today. They don't always start out with a bang, but they are generally more realistic, more detailed, and the characters are fully developed. Kind of like a foreign film as opposed to a mindless Hollywood action flick.
I found it hard to sympathize with the main character, since she was a total nut-case, but I suppose I didn't hate her by the end. Snyder
David Manning
Five stars for sentimental reasons, at least four stars on its own merits. The book creates a gentle sort of menacing atmosphere in which a twelve year old girl may or may not be periodically possessed by a demon or a witch's familiar.

I discovered this book in the school library when I was in first or second grade, and it made a deep and lasting impression on me. About ten years ago I started trying to find the book again, but I couldn't remember the title, and ever since then whenever I've thou
I was actually really excited to read this book and am disappointed with how it turned out. The entire way through the book I kept asking myself if everything was really happening. Really, truly I was not impressed.

Jessica, our main character, stumbles upon an ugly newborn kitten and unwillingly finds herself taking care of it. Everything hasn't been going so swell in Jessica's life, what with her mother being away most of the time and her friends abandoning her, so she spends most of her time t
Anastasia (Here There Be Books)
Originally posted at Here There Be Books (goes live 7/12/13).

I think this is the darkest Zilpha Keatley Snyder book I've read yet. It's got the standard 1970s bad parent(s), a very mixed up kid, and a really creepy cat. I felt bad for everyone in this book, but especially for Jessica.

She doesn't really have any positive role models and everyone ignores her, so much so that she has to resort to something drastic to get people to pay attention to her. If this were a Stephen King book, Jessica woul
Despair Speaking
This was a quick read. Managed to do it in one seating and I didn't regret it. Although I've heard about the Salem witch trials, I didn't know about Ann so I learned a lot with this book. The portrayal was nice and the build-up was good. I didn't really pity Jessica that much (sure, it's mostly other people's fault, but her problem is that, even if it's her fault this time, she still blames others, which is stupid), and I already suspected the truth because Worm didn't strike me as suspicious, b ...more
Sarah Sammis
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
I read this book when I was a child, perhaps 8 or 9 years old, and I wondered why it had stayed with me for so long. I was quite surprised when I re-read the book, even more so because I read the author's note in this edition.

The author says the book was written because people were blaming the supernatural or their parents for their problems; however, the main character, Jessica, would have reason to blame her parents for her issues. Jessica doesn't blame her absent mother, instead she blames h
12 August 2014 Upon finishing: I think this book has gotten mixed up with another in my memories, because, wow, I did not remember that! It finishes well and she doesn't minimize what is going on with and for Jessica. But dark - wow this is dark, down to its marrow. I think every one of us needs a Mrs. Fortune at some point in our lives - she was a wonderful lady. And an interesting flip on the stories of Salem and the witch trials.

11 August 2014 on page 95 of 183 of The Witches of Worm: don't k
Zilpha Keatley Snyder does psychological novels that seems paranormal but aren't. Excellent writing. Has some freaky bits. Her writing sucks you in. But this is not a light read. Though geared towards kids, as it has an eleven/ten year old protagonist, the topics are serious, such as abandonment, loneliness, and the messed up psyche of a latch key kid. This book parents ought to discuss with children when they read it.
Ohhhh scary, scary! I shouldn't have read this past midnight this morning, before I went to bed. I totally had a vague dream about some creepy cat like Worm and a problematic young girl like Jessica. I LOVE cats, but I cannot help but wonder if those who are afraid of them would find this story all the more frightening? Cause man, Worm was CREE-PY.

One of the scary things about this story (besides Worm) was how realistic it was. Honestly, it didn't feel like a fantasy to me! It really dug deep in
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Awsome book 4 13 Apr 19, 2014 07:53PM  
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The recipient of three Newbery Honor Book awards for "The Egypt Game", "The Headless Cupid" and "The Witches of Worm", Zilpha Keatley Snyder has been writing books for children since 1964 when her first book, "A Season of Ponies", was published. Since that time she has completed 43 books, mostly for children aged 9 to 13, but also including two books for young adults, four picture books for younge ...more
More about Zilpha Keatley Snyder...
The Egypt Game (Game, #1) The Headless Cupid (Stanley Family, #1) The Velvet Room The Changeling The Gypsy Game (Game, #2)

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“Belief in mysteries, any manner of mysteries, is the only lasting luxury in life.” 16 likes
“Belief in mysteries—all manner of mysteries—is the only lasting luxury in life.” 4 likes
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