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The Witches of Worm

3.70  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,732 Ratings  ·  162 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
100th out of 318 books — 338 voters
The Dark Is Rising by Susan CooperTuck Everlasting by Natalie BabbittDragonsong by Anne McCaffreyWatership Down by Richard AdamsMrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
Children's Fantasy of the 1970s
26th out of 131 books — 27 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Apr 28, 2015 Carmen rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 13, 2011 Mariel rated it liked it
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 12, 2012 Miriam rated it really liked it
Shelves: younger, realism

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.
Mar 12, 2011 Robyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 30, 2008 Kirsten rated it really liked it
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
I think I read this when I was little, the first chapter seemed vaguely familiar. Pretty creepy. Not because Worm might be a demon cat, but because Jessica might be a psychopath. Brandon was an abusive little turd as well. I liked it though.
Oct 26, 2009 Josiah rated it liked it
"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
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
Clare O'Beara
Nov 23, 2014 Clare O'Beara rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 22, 2013 Catherine rated it did not like it
Shelves: young-adult
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
Luke Baldock
Mar 05, 2012 Luke Baldock rated it really liked it
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
Jul 13, 2009 Victoria rated it really liked it
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
May 28, 2013 jess rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, ladyish, yaf, 2013
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
Jul 15, 2013 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 17, 2011 Linda Lipko rated it did not like it
Shelves: newbery-winner
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
Jul 17, 2014 Rob Boley rated it it was amazing
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
Proper review pending until I give it the reread it deserves, but this was the first non-Stephen King horror I ever read as a child, and the sense of creeping dread it inspired in me then still sits at the back of my neck, where it gives the occasional creepy-fond stroke down my spine.
Fiction State Of Mind
Aug 05, 2015 Fiction State Of Mind rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-book
This is a wonderfully creepy read. Jessica is a very angry young woman with very good reasons. She has recently lost two best friends, one in her very own apartment building, and she has a mother who is so busy dating and working she ignores jessica altogether. So it was intruiging reading Jessica's story since i didnt really like her in the beginning.

Jessica finds a kitten in a cave and with the guidance of a woman in her building she saves the young kitten who is named Worm by Jessica's mothe
Sep 28, 2007 Megan rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens
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.
Cd Rodden
Sep 07, 2015 Cd Rodden rated it it was ok
As an adult reading this youth fiction, I understood the story within the story. I doubt that many young people would understand the subtext unless they are avid readers.

I very much agreed with another review on here stating that Jessica's relationship with Brandon potentially sends a poor message to the young readers regarding physically dangerous friendships. The treatment of the kitten is very poor judgment and the author does nothing to make the reader acknowledge that. The take away at the
Jul 26, 2013 Magda rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens, own
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 really liked it
Recommends it for: grades 5-7
Shelves: scaryjfic
A possessed cat causes lots of bad things to happen. TOTALLY creepy.
Kindle Daily Deal 7/30/14 $1.99.
1973 Newbery Honor Book

This book was very odd. I have one more Snyder book to read on my list and I wonder if it will be as disappointing as the first two.

The main character is Jessica who lives in an apartment with her single mother, Joy. Joy is described as pretty and works as a secretary and often leaves Jessica alone to go out with her latest boyfriend Alan. Also living in the apartment complex are Brandon, Jessica's former friend who plays the trumpet and Mrs. Fortune, an old lady with a bu
Mar 05, 2016 cookiemonger rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
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
Aug 13, 2014 Sara rated it really liked it
Shelves: written-by-women
"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)
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
Dec 27, 2010 David Manning rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 25, 2013 Kristina rated it it was ok
Shelves: childrens-books
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
Despair Speaking
Apr 28, 2013 Despair Speaking rated it really liked it
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
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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 young ...more
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“Belief in mysteries, any manner of mysteries, is the only lasting luxury in life.” 17 likes
“Belief in mysteries—all manner of mysteries—is the only lasting luxury in life.” 4 likes
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