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The Witch's Boy

(The Witch's Boy #1)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  4,858 ratings  ·  819 reviews
“A lightning bolt erupted from the cloud and aimed directly at Ned’s heart. He couldn’t cry out. He couldn’t even move. He could just feel the magic sink into his skin and spread itself over every inch of him, bubbling and slithering and cutting deep, until he didn’t know where the magic stopped and he began.”

When Ned and his identical twin brother Tam tumble from their ra
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published September 16th 2014 by Algonquin Young Readers (first published August 25th 2014)
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Average rating 4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,858 ratings  ·  819 reviews

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Oct 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Delightful, beautiful, heartfelt. A fairy-tale like story full of meaning and messages worth remembering. A story of love and sacrifice, redemption and forgiveness, unlikely friendships and new beginnings. Absolutely loved this book!
Jack Stark
2.018965 stars

I wanted to like this. I really did. It started off so well with so many elements that I love in a story but then it just sort of fizzled out and I felt very ‘meh’ for the last two thirds.
And sometimes the things that were wicked become the things that save us, and the things that were good doom us to misery and pain.

The Witch’s Boy had potential to be a really good fairy tale-esque story. In the beginning, twin boys, Ned and Tam, create a raft to float out to sea. The raft doesn’t
Producervan in Cornville, AZ from New Orleans & L.A.
The Witch's Boy by Kelly Barnhill. Published September 16, 2014 by Algonquin Young Readers. 5 Stars. I got this ebook from the library. Engaging from the very start. Brilliantly written about a couple of teens (one a twin) and their soulful and magical relationships with the earth, the forest, the stones, their dreams of the sea, and even death. An involved plot that is deeply simple at its core—how do the intentions and choices people make about love affect the future—theirs and everyone else’s ...more
Isa Lavinia
Apr 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
So wonderful!!!

This books is a perfect example of how amazing children's books can be!
It was simply magical, imaginative, vivid in its worldbuilding, with well developed character, a lovely plot, and clever social commentary!
I hate that I'm not very good at expressing myself when it comes to books I really like, but take it from me, this is a book everyone should read!
What a lovely, enchanting story..
Full review to come...

Arc provided by Algonquin Books through Netgalley

How much I loved thee... let me count the ways...

I loved it all, so much, that I don't even know how to properly write this review...
Fair warning...

Ode To a Book:
(Just not lyrical... or written in metrical form... although if you want to, be free to sing it! Basically this is just my way to give voice to the fangirl in me!

I loved your storytelling abilities. I loved your multidimens
Mar 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was my first exposure to Kelly Barnhill and when I started reading this book I did not realize that the next book on my to-read pile is her Newbery winner, The Girl Who Drank the Moon. I am looking forward to reading more of her next, as I really enjoyed The Witch's Boy!

I appreciated that the magic in the book seemed different from other fantasy novels involving magic. I liked that it had its own personality and that I didn't always know whether or not to trust it. I also thought the plot a
May 17, 2015 rated it liked it
I had high hopes for this book which it didn't quite meet. It's not that this book was bad. On the contrary, if I saw a child reading it I certainly wouldn't slap it out of their hands. I just can't really say it moved me the way I like books to do (even children's novels).

The concept is great. There are witches and bandit kings and wolves. Both the beginning and end of the story are strong, but the middle began to drag for me. The author made a couple of plot choices that I didn't quite see th
I really couldn't get into this. None of the characters felt real, but more like made-up fairytale tropes. It was beautifully written but sloooooooow.
Sep 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Anika and I were reading this aloud, and then got stuck at probably the hardest part in the whole book. It seemed all was lost, and what in the world would this tale come to? We let it sit for a few months, then I picked it up and polished it off -- and it got better and better. I loved how the strength of the characters shone through in the end. I'm listening for the rumble of speaking stones. ...more
Oct 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, children-s, 2014
First of all before I start talking about this book, I just want to say: That cover, you guys! I really love that cover and if anything, it was that cover that first drew me to give Kelly Barnhill's The Witch's Boy a closer look. I loved the play with the big shadows and those tiny little figures, and the sense that they were at the edge of the world. It is very fitting to the setting of the book and the villagers’ belief that there is nothing beyond the forest-clad mountains. But mostly it just ...more
Sep 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Ned and his twin brother build a raft, but it is not seaworthy, and Tam dies. Ned survives only through Tam's soul and his mother's magic. But the villagers are convinced the wrong boy lived, especially because the experience left Ned without words. Meanwhile, practical Áine lives in the forest with her bandit father, who is being overtaken by a strange force.

THE WITCH'S BOY is a lovely book. Ned and Áine are both hugely likeable in different ways. Ned has had to struggle with himself his whole
Jan 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I can't remember the last time I unexpectedly loved a book so much! (Lies. I totally can remember. It was when I read "The King of Attolia" by Megan Whalen Turner a couple of years ago. I accidentally read it out of order of the rest of "The Queen's Thief" I just re-read it within a week of reading it the first time. Yep.) This book starts in a kind of dark place, but I guess not the kind of "witchcraft" dark I'd expected from the cover and the blip on the inside cover. More poignanc ...more
Jan 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
A beautifully told fairy tale. A proper fairy tale- it has teeth.

Ned is "The Wrong Boy" the twin who lived, son of Sister Witch who guards a small store of magic and keeps it "good" by not using it for personal gain - until the moment she loses Tam and stitches his soul to Ned to strengthen him in an act of desperation to save at least one of her sons.

Aine is the daughter of the Bandit King, a man who was saved from banditry and magic by the love of his wife but when she died became lost again.

Jun 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, middle-grade, fantasy
Gorgeous, spare writing that brings to life an unusual and wonderful story. I couldn't put this one down, and it made me sad and joyful at the same time. ...more
Carina Olsen
Apr 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
When I saw this gorgeous cover I knew I had to read the book. Then I read the summary and fell in love. And then it was on NetGalley. And I had to request it. So happy that the publisher approved me. <3 Took me some weeks to start reading it, but today I finally did. And it was so worth it. I adored it a lot.

I'm not sure how to begin talking about this book. First I want to mention that the writing is beautiful. I really loved it. It made the story come alive for me. Then there are the character
Jan 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Ned is the "wrong boy"; he lived when his twin brother Tam did not. His mother, Sister Witch, could not bear to lose both her boys at the same time so she sewed Tam's soul into Ned thus saving his life, but causing him difficulties. Ned is never able to speak without stuttering or read any words after the accident. The townspeople believe the wrong boy was saved and treat him badly. His father can barely look at him. Sister Witch is the keeper of magic in their village. The magic has been passed ...more
Jun 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
I can't recall the last time I enjoyed a book for children as much as I did this one.

What made me love this book more than anything else was the original elements the author used to describe magic. Rather than just doing the usual "boy has powers" type of thing, Kelly Barnhill went a completely different direction. The magic in this book is a living, breathing thing and it permeates every page with creativity.

This is a book that I would be happy to share with my children, knowing that it will
Oct 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I really enjoyed this book. Once I picked it up and got into it, I couldn't put it down. The characters were realistic and if it was in their character to do something dumb, they did it because it was in their character, not because it was necessary to move the plot along. That's one of my biggest pet-peeves and the book missed that peeve by a mile.

The world was simple and well thought-out. It was interesting and it was explained very well. There was one area where I felt there was a bit too muc
This is the sort of fairytale I like. Real and hard and not always pleasant. This is the sort of fairytale I cut my teeth on as a child.

This is the story of Ned, the twin who lived, and his brother Tam who, despite dying in a drowning accident, is inexorably stitched to his surviving brother. This is the story of Aine, the daughter of The Bandit King who longs for the sea she was forced to give up when her mother fell ill. This is the story of Sister Witch, Ned and Tam's mother, who controls the
Pranta Ghosh Dastider
Jul 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What can I say about this story? The more I say the less it shall be! Such a fascinating example of great storytelling. I have utmost respect for Kelly Barnhill.

A simple story can turn out to be great if you can tell it nicely. And this was no simple story. It had depth, it had love, hate, grief, betrayal, triumph, friendship, mystery and much more. Such poetic lines, such depth in words, such graceful choice of explanation. I am awed, and I am sold.

The more I read, the more I felt. The more I
Jan 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mooberry-library
A simply told beautiful story about loss, war, and magic contained. Also friendship and what it means to save someone. It's told in the manner of a fairy tale but the characters become very real and very complicated. The writing leaves the reader to fill in the blanks and I believe it's a book for those whose imaginations run rampant. I found it very good, the ending made my eyes misty and I'll probably go back for another helping. ...more
Kiwi Begs2Differ  ✎
A dreamy fairy tale, dark but not too much, a bit rambling. It reminded me of Kate DiCamillo’s style, if you liked her The Tale of Despereaux you might like this novel too. 2 1/2 stars rounded up ...more
Jan 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
A fairytale of power and self-control, wisdom and recklessness, friendship and the fragility and gift of life, this story reads well aloud and has much to discuss and share. Good family and classroom read.
Dec 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
More of these types of books need to exist
Golshan Tabatabaie
Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
The plot is so rich, the book can easily be developed to a YA fantasy.

This is my second read by Kelly Barnhill, so I was familiar with the writing style and that was a huge help to connect to the story. I honestly think the plot may be a little bit complex for children. I could have been more of a fan of the book if it was written for young adults. It was interesting to read more about the magic in the book since it is so different and unique. But overall, I enjoyed reading it cause it made me e
Crystal Pistal
Oct 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My kids and I are reading every children's book Kelly Barnhill has written that I can find. We love her storytelling so much! They are always biting their nails when I read to them with anticipation! We have one more book to read of hers and then I will have to find another author and I am really sad about that. If anyone happens to have any recommendations please let me know! Her stories are good for adults and kids a like! They are always full of inspiring messages and whimsical storytelling! ...more
Faerie Librarian
It is extraordinary what a Mother's love can accomplish.

When Sister Witch, the Village's resident healer, and magic-worker, loses one of her twin boys to the depths of the wild river, she does what she swore she would never do. She uses magic for her own gain. While her surviving son benefits from this choice, it comes at a cost.

Ned, who was once a strong, capable, and adventurous boy, is left weakened, stuttering, and unable to read. The Village cruelly calls him "The Wrong Boy" suggesting it
Cecily Sorrel
May 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
Originally reviewed at
With the time I had over Thanksgiving break, I read a whole stack of books that had been sitting in the corner of my room, lost without a shelf, for several months. This one huddled at the very bottom of the stack and I read it last. I believe my time would have been better spent perusing Ivanhoe.

Ned and Tam do everything together. Clever, mischievous, and intrepid, they explore and share adventures each day, watched by their quiet and kind fath
The Witch’s Boy is an excellent read for all ages. It’s a slow burn but its themes sticks to this reader. Guised as a “simple story” with all the trappings of the hero(ine)’s quest, magic, and adventure, this book tackles some heavy themes: personal power (what we’re aware and not aware of, how it can cloud our sense of Self, the fear of it, desire for it . . . ); intuition vs. the voices insider our head that get us confused; the power of words and silence; finding one’s voice and knowing when ...more
Nov 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
it is the kind of story I am always searching for, the kind woven with magic, both in the words and in the tale, and I am sure am going to re-read it and enjoy it again one day.

funny thing that I picked this novel cos of its cover and small summry, not realizing that I read for the same author before, I read another book by her, and as much as I loved this once I hated the other novel, though am thinking to re-read it again maybe I was the one at fault back in the time,
but this one
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Kelly Barnhill is an author and teacher. She won the World Fantasy Award for her novella The Unlicensed Magician, a Parents Choice Gold Award for Iron Hearted Violet, the Charlotte Huck Honor for The Girl Who Drank the Moon, and has been a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award, the Andre Norton award, and the PEN/USA literary prize. She was also a McKnight Artist's Fellowship recipient in Children ...more

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