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The Whitby Witches

(The Whitby Witches #1)

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  885 ratings  ·  88 reviews
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Date of Publication: 1995 Binding: paperback Edition: Condition: Near Fine Description: 0750005815 cover worn ...more
Published February 15th 2001 by Hodder Children's Books (first published 1991)
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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 ·  885 ratings  ·  88 reviews

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Louise / Daisy May Johnson
I've written about The Whitby Witches before but never quite in the guise of a formal review. Upon the decision that I wanted to use this book in my PhD (and how, oh how could I not...), I knew it was time to fix that. And so: a review. But how to review this dark and powerful and wildly fantastic book, oh where to begin with such a book that is the first in a trilogy but not, somehow. The Whitby Witches is of Whitby and responsive to Whitby and in dialogue with the story of Whitby and all of th ...more
Laure Eve
It's very hard for me to be objective about Robin Jarvis - he's a childhood author that I think has infiltrated my very consciousness and I love his worlds dearly. But it was interesting to re-read a favourite with the jaded enthusiasm of an adult and find that, actually, this still stood up as a superb piece of children's fiction. Like Pullman, Jarvis is an author that anyone from ages 8 to 80 could read and adore. The Whitby trilogy isn't as JESUSCHRISTDARK as say, The Deptford Mice trilogy, b ...more
Rosie Wedge
Unfortunately, this book just wasn't for me.

Whitby is my favourite place in the UK, bar none, and so upon finding this book during my most recent visit to this beautiful town, its needless to say I was very excited.

I loved all the urban myth aspects to the novel, and the eeriness in which these legends were present in the book, however the writing style made this book quite un-enjoyable on the whole. I am baffled as to who the target audience was for this book. The writing style was very much fo
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m not sure what age group this book is intended for, I’m guessing around 10-ish as this is a book I would have adored at that age. The descriptions of Whitby are perfect and who wouldn’t love a book filled with witches, aufwaders and barghest? I have to search out the other books by this author.
J.A. Ironside
Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Admittedly this is a reread (I have actually no idea how many times I've read this since I discovered it aged 14 but as I'm er quite a bit older now it would be fair to say a lot...)

I am so excited that Egmont classics are producing a reprint of one of my favourite series of books. Recently I read 'The Devil's Paintbox' and 'The Power of Dark' which are part of a quartet of new witch stories set in Whitby. While I loved them there's som
Angela Smith
It took a while for the story to get going, but as it got further in I slowly got into it. Set in Whitby, a place with a lot of lore and legends. Ben and Jennet are orphans that have been taken in by the elderly and eccentric Miss Boston. Ben has had trouble fitting into other foster homes since their parents deaths because he has the gift of sight and can see the dead among other things. His sister Jennet does not share his gift so therefore doesn't know whether to believe he can see what he sa ...more
Zander Xela
Sep 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lisa Scott-Thacker
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
A fun read whilst on holiday in Whitby, made me eager to get out and do some more sightseeing. Actually a little scary too, especially when read in a near silent holiday cottage with dim lighting! Would recommend for children 9+
Oct 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm new to Robin Jarvis but loved this classic which has everything you want in a spooky MG read - witches, folklore, magic, tea & cake, quaint seaside towns and dark energy rippling throughout. Might have get stuck into the series now. Recommended! ...more
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up when I was I Whitby as I love the town and I wanted to read more stuff that was set there. The Whitby Witches was just so fun! I loved the plot and the characters. I do think the ending was a bit rushed tho.
Ieuan Skinner
Honestly I thought the third act of this book was completely garbage and left the whole read feeling utterly disappointing.

The world and characters as they're set up make for a potentially interesting plot with a boy who can see ghosts and an adoptive aunt who could once do the same but now enjoys the company of other old ladies whom perform seances together, but alas this is abandoned in favour of a more convoluted story whose climax is woefully poor.

The authors over reliance on character monol
Jun 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Ben and Jennet are travelling from the North East of England to Whitby, North Yorkshire to a new adoptive home. Since the death of their parents they have moved from foster home to foster home: Ben's ability to see dead people tends to put off foster families. On arrival at Whitby they meet their new adoptive mother- the eccentric elderly Alice Boston. The children settle in quickly, enjoying getting to know Miss Boston and explore Whitby, getting to know the local legends, including the story o ...more
Feb 20, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joey Woolfardis
[Quick review from memory before I re-read and re-review at a later date]

(Oh my, this book. My mother's favourite and I think it might be one of mine, though I'm slightly confused at the lower rating. Vague snatches of scenes though no memory of characters. A definite re-read, sooner rather than later. Perhaps not written terribly well, despite the story?)
Oct 14, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: children/young teens
I read this in second year at secondary school (about 13 year old year age). I'd recommend it to younger children. It will widen their imaginations, as it did to mine.
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Coming to this new edition of Robin Jarvis’s classic young adult novel for the first time as an adult I feel that I definitely missed out as a child by overlooking his work. This is a wonderful, dark, spooky tale set in the seaside town of Whitby (famed for its ties to Dracula so giving the setting a layer of superstition before the book has even started) with an archetypal struggle between good and evil.

Two or
Judith Moore
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Full review up on my blog:

This book is set in the wonderful English seaside town of Whitby, however a slightly alternative universe where there is a certain amount of magic that is not common knowledge to most people. I liked this setting, though my own experience of English seaside towns is less ‘oh how charming’ and more ‘oh I’m sure this was nice a long time ago but now it just looks a little crusty’. The level of fantasy I felt was pretty standard for a novel for young
Nov 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actually gave this 3.5 stars, I ummed and ahhed about whether or not to give it 3 or 4 here on Goodreads...
I enjoyed it, the darkness and spookiness is delicious, the characters are vibrant (Aunt Alice holds it all together perfectly), and some of the horror is unexpected. It also makes you want to go visit Whitby! I love Aunt Alice:

"Adolescent histrionics," Mrs. Joyster remarked dryly ... "Girls like that are only seeking attention."

"Well, I'll make sure she receives some then," Aunt Alice bar
I have no self control (and I really love witches, man), so when I was in Whitby, 10 minutes away from catching a train, and saw this in a bookshop - I had to have it. Robin Jarvis is not my childhood author - that title belongs to Astrid Lindgren, so the feeling that I had when I read it might be different from most people.

But - it's solid. I especially appreciated the older women being witches, and completely going under everyone's radar because they're grandmas. (On a side note: what if the H
Nov 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
the moment i fell in love with this book was the moment that Jennet's baked potato fork took on the folklore-epic status of a Morgul-blade. in general the combination of atmospheric English seaside town with old-lady-centred supernatural mystery adventure worked as well as you would expect it to. the ending was a little too wild and nonsensical for my liking; after all the great pacing and plotting and build-up that came before, the pay-off felt like a multicolour ejaculation of Jarvis's obvious ...more
Oct 21, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was a bit confused by this book. It seems like a Middle Grade book but I thought that it was much too violent and scary for kids that age. Reading it as an adult (grandmother), even I thought it was violent. Here's the parts I liked:
I like that it was set in Yorkshire. I adore England and their legends fit nicely with the story.
I like that the kids, Jennet and Ben, finally found a loving home with Alice Boston.
I like that Alice Boston is 92 years old and strong and active.
I like the abbey o
Jan 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england
Eight-year-old Ben and twelve-year-old Jennet have been adopted by their great aunt Alice, after the recent deaths of their parents. Jennet is worried that Ben's secret (he can see the ghosts of those who have passed on) will scare their aunt, and that they will once again be homeless, as the foster care system did not work out for them. Jennet doesn't realize, however, that Alice has some secrets of her own, and that Ben may be able to help save the small town of Whitby from an evil force that ...more
Sep 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A rereading of a childhood favourite. I loved Jarvis' books as a child, and this one has stood up well. It's much darker than I remember, strangely, and over the intervening 20+ years I'd forgotten most of the story, so it was as gripping as ever. I can see myself working my way through the rest in the near future, and maybe reading some of the ones I'd grown too old to read first time round. A great piece of magical fantasy.
Dec 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved the first half of the book with the coastal town of Whitby being brought to life with the local folklore and myths tied into the story and I think everyone needs an Aunt Alice who is comforting, kind and funny, along with her group of friends. The only part that seemed to go downhill for me was the last 2-3 chapters that showed too many conflicts trying to be resolved quickly. Whitby has now moved to the top of my Would Love To Visit locations.
Nov 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is probably closer to three stars. This is perfect for fantasy lovers. The middle I felt was a bit lost and confusing. But the end was amazing as we had some time travelling. The villain was the best character for me as she was the best written character in the book for me. The main characters were ok. I related to Jennet as I have a younger brother and probably protect mine like she does with Ben.
Jess Jackson
Jul 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 9-12
I was really enjoying this book, the characters were interesting and the plot was moving along and a good pace that kept me reading. This would have got 4 stars but for the weird fast paced (completely different to the rest of the book) rushed feeling that the end gave me. While I liked the idea of the time travel scene I thought that the execution of it just felt wrong for the book.
I Read, Therefore I Blog
Robin Jarvis’s horror novel for children aged 9+ (the first in a trilogy) is a creepy, sinister read but the pacing is uneven and the antagonist two-dimensional, which is a shame as there are some stunning scenes while the developing relationship between Jennet, Ben and Alice held my interest but not enough for me to automatically check out the sequel, although I would read Jarvis’s other work.
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't remember how I came across this book, but even though the novel is aimed at children, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this 🙂. Book is now passed on to my granddaughter and I hope that she also enjoys reading this.
I now need to search for books 2 & 3, but so far these do not appear to be readily available to purchase new 🙁🙁🙁.
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this fun, spooky book, set in beautiful Whitby and I would definitely read more by this author as I enjoyed his style. Some of the minor characters were too much like caricatures (particularly the very unkind descriptions of Mrs Banbury-Scott) which is a shame as the main characters are so well drawn and vivid, as is the location. Overall a good read.
Margaret Pemberton
A fantastic read for middle grade readers. Full of mystery magic and witches, set in the fishing town of Whitby; however given that Count Dracula was said to have landed here, you can understand why people think in terms of the macabre when talking about it.
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Robin Jarvis (born May 8, 1963) is a British children's novelist, who writes fantasy novels, often about anthropomorphic rodents and small mammals – especially mice – and Tudor times. A lot of his works are based in London, in and around Deptford and Greenwich where he used to live, or in Whitby.

His first novel – The Dark Portal, featuring the popular Deptford Mice – was the runner up for the Smar

Other books in the series

The Whitby Witches (3 books)
  • A Warlock in Whitby (The Whitby Witches, #2)
  • The Whitby Child (The Whitby Witches, #3)

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“The abbey had dominated Whitby for centuries and waves of invisible force flowed down from it. The ruin was a guardian, watching and waiting, caring for the little town that huddled beneath the cliff. It was a worshipful thing.” 0 likes
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