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Which Witch?

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  11,418 ratings  ·  556 reviews
Arriman the Awful, feared Wizard of the North, has decided to marry. But his wife must be a witch of the darkest powers . . .

A sorcery competition is held to discover which witch is the most potent and fiendish, and glamorous Madame Olympia conjures up a thousand plague-bearing rats Belladonna, the white witch, desperately wants to be a wicked enchantress, but her magic
Paperback, 186 pages
Published June 5th 2009 by Pan MacMillan (first published 1979)
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[Name Redacted] Ibbotson's books never have a traditional singular antagonist. In many cases the "antagonist" is the protagonist(s) his/her/themselves. Even in a book…moreIbbotson's books never have a traditional singular antagonist. In many cases the "antagonist" is the protagonist(s) his/her/themselves. Even in a book like this, life is rarely that simple. XD(less)
Amelia I'd say there are three. Belladonna, Arriman and Terrence are the focus of the story.

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Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,418 ratings  ·  556 reviews

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Roshani Chokshi
This was one of my absolute favorites when I was little...dark wizard holding a tournament for potential brides? Hell yes. I reread this recently thinking it couldn't possibly be as great as I remembered, but it was!!! Highly recommend to all baby goths (or grown goths who want their black hearts to spin up in a haze of slightly-grotesque mist and sprout happy bat wings).
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Aug 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jeanette by: Cadiva
This was just a ton of fun. Ibbotson is like a tamer Roald Dahl, with a twist of Monty Python. The part about the rats, though? That was pure Stephen King. *shudder*
Sep 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
I was pleasantly surprised by this quick read. My daughter told me I HAD to read it, after she had read and enjoyed it herself. So I took it along on a long train trip, and read it in one sitting. While Ibbotson will never win any awards for character development, she does have a way with both words and plot; her turns of phrase continually gave me pleasure, and her silly plot made me laugh out loud several times, drawing bemused looks from my fellow train passengers. A good book for younger ...more
Jan 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Re reading is not among my inclinations or priorities. However, I had to make an exception for Which Witch?. I read it first about 20 years ago, and I liked it so much that I didn't forget the small details for a long time. But recently I have had the urge to revisit past favorites. That's why I broke my habits and read this book again.

The author's style is ebullient and twisty. Her imagination was spot on. She knew, by instinct, what was appealing and whimsical. The book is not of the fantasy
Sep 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is... this is the jewel of my childhood!
My mum was just telling me the other day how, when I was younger (about 5 or 6, I think), there was a book I used to love. I would always read and reread and reread it again... constantly, apparently.
Though I haven't read this book in years and YEARS, I recently found it in a box in the attic and thought "OMG this is the book mum keeps telling I used to love!" and decided to read it again.

Unsurprisingly enough, I still love it! It brought back many
It's hilarious, I was laughing so hard while reading it! It's like a parody of all the today's YA paranormal romances. (yeah I know it isn't the intention of the author - just look at the year when it was written, but still..) If I'm to be fair, this book doesn't really deserve four stars, but I'm feeling generous. So what? Does it matter if it's predictable? I mean it didn't stop me from laughing out loud, so who cares?
Dec 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
If you haven't yet discovered Eva Ibbotson, this is a great place to start. This is one of the charming, intriguing, hilarious, and outright pleasurable books I have ever read!

It's about Arriman the Aweful, a wizard famous for both his power and his good looks has decided to marry a witch. From a long list of candidates the winner must be: the fairest of them all the most evil of them all. Belladonna is is determined to win the competition but the problem is she is a distressingly good
Mar 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
A fun read - silly and sweet, and yes, charming.

I should just start writing "CHARMING" ten times in a row for all of my Ibbotson reviews. I can't seem to come up with another word for her. She's charming and delightful. Go read her.

My work here is done.
Delightful fun! Never before have I been charmed by a bat making up stories about his family when chatting to a young witch or felt maternal towards an orphaned kraken who just wants someone to care for him. Nor have I seen a German princess complaining because a witch turned her into a penguin, not a swan or maiden-aunt mermaids haranguing their part-human niece. Ibbotson has created this world that makes magic into such an everyday part of life. It's a bit like Spindle's End, if it were set in ...more
Michael Campbell
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Hilariously dark and clever, with surprisingly well thought out and realized characters. The concept of a dark wizard holding a "The Bachelor" style contest to choose his bride to be from the assorted local witches sounded interesting enough, but the execution and comedic timing were wonderful. Light hearted with several dark twists throughout, definitely a fun read!
Jul 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Arriman the awful, Grand Poobah of all things nasty and mighty dark wizard of the North has had many happy years of blighting, smiting and wrecking a great deal of havoc. But there comes a time when even the darkest of wizards gets tired of the "monotony" and wants to pass on the mantle to a more sinister and deserving wizard.

The great hunt begins and Arriman creates a kindly, three-headed monster called the "Wizard Watcher" for the task. But with not even the faintest squeak of a dark wizard
Jean Menzies
I really couldn't decide whether to give this book a 3 or 4 star rating so consider this a 3.5 that would probably have been a 4 if I was still a child. The book was just straight up great fun! It has been a while since I read a new children's book, that isn't a re-read from my own childhood, and I now realise I have been missing out. The process of reading this book was such good fun; Eva Ibbotson has constructed a really fantastical world with amusing characters and lots of plot twists. I was ...more
Apr 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
I was inspired in re-visiting this book by my cute little sisters playing witches in our backyard. There they were strutting around the grass sneering disdain and blurting out curses on "unwanted visitors" commenting on how annoyingly good so-and-so was. And I just sat there and smiled, smart little creatures' I thought who at their young age already understood the beauty of a good-old bad guy.Then I remembered this book. I remember reading this when I was about 9 not really understanding half ...more
Feb 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: witch-and-wizard
It's fun and hilarious.
OH, I'd like to know what happens next to Madam Olympia and Sir Simon! How they will try to kill each other!
Krithika Sundar
May 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommended to Krithika by: NITHYA
This book was adorable so thanks to Nithya. Belladonna is so adorkable and I didn't find her annoying even once :) I got transported back to my childhood!!
Riley Redgate
shoutout to the symphony of death
Jessica {Litnoob}
I can’t rate a book that was a childhood favorite because, how does one pick apart their childhood love with actually reviewing? Impossible

Still this book is just dark enough to make you cringe and sweet enough to make you smile. It’s engaging and magical and I’d recommend it to children and adults alike.
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
"a life of loneliness, begonias, and pain"
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Amusing, a bit ghoulish, and entertaining--I thought it was lots of fun for Halloween reading. In retrospect, it wasn't too hard to guess the ending but I wasn't *sure* what would happen, so it was never boring, and there were some surprises along the way.
Jan 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
Overall, this book was OK. (In my opinion.)

What I disliked:
I couldn't really understand what the book was trying to say. It had some kind of accent or something I didn't understand. But that is probably because it was originally made in 1979. I also felt like this book put too much detail. Like the sentences were extremely long when it comes to describing. I am a visual person but I also like books that would just get to the point. I also felt this book was predictable (unless that was just me.)
May 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
In elementary school, I read so voraciously that I regularly picked out books from the library based just on their cover art or title or alluring book jacket. One such book that I borrowed from my elementary school's library had a plot that stayed with me, but I hadn't been able to remember the title until one day in the paperback section of the children's library of the main Chicago Public Library branch when, quite by chance, I found the book. It was called Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson and I ...more
Anna Nesterovich
Dec 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens, fantasy
"...there really was no way of telling which witch was which." I picked up this book because of the reference in the Castle Hangnail, where Ursula Vernon mentioned Which Witch? as an inspiration. And since I really liked Castle Hangnail, I couldn't miss this one.

I guess the author was a pioneer in the genre. Though he book is a bit out-of-date now, it's still not like the lot of children's books. It's really very amusing.

Only four stars is for being just amusing, nothing more. It was a good
Sep 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: important-kidlit
while we're on Very Important Sorceresses
Jan 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Recently, I have been in an Eva Ibbotson reading phase. While The Countess Below Stairs is my favorite, I still enjoy many of her other young-adult and middle-school stories. Which Witch? is a super cute and funny middle-grade book about a big witch competition. Arriman the Awful is tired of being an evil wizard. He just wants to rest and write a book, but in order to retire, he needs to find a powerful successor. After waiting in vain for a couple of years, his secretary suggests Arriman to ...more
Nina Clare
I love Eva Ibbotson's humour and quirky characters. I put off reading this one for a long time, just because witches and ghosties aren't my thing, I prefer Ibotson's YA romances— but I love her writing so much I'll even read her 'scary' stories, and despite lots of inevitable ickiness (warty, fly-ridden witches, giant cannibalistic rats, etc...) this was a lot of fun.

When Arriman the Awful, Loather of Light, dashing and dastardly Wizard of the North decides he needs a wife, he sets up a Miss
Adriana (SaltyBadgerBooks)
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
So glad I read this again as an adult! I love it as much as I did when reading it as a kid! It's just so much fun, and a little dark and twisted! The writing is so amazing, and the characters really come to life! Going to have to reread her other books now too!
Katy Jean Vance
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lol. Cute :) I think our kids would like them.
Jan 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Very cute. I have had this and other children's books by Eva Ibbotson sitting around for a while. Glad I finally read it.
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
So. Cute!!!!
Kathryn (Nine Pages)
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Originally published on my blog, Nine Pages .


I’ve read several of Eva Ibbotson’s books. Which Witch? is perhaps one of her best known, possibly for its clever title. It was too one of her earliest, preceded only by The Great Ghost Rescue (of which I’d not heard before writing this review). The theme of this book is a comfortable one: the power of love, the dangers of an absence of love, and the power of love to transform a person. It is told with a twist, however. The protagonists are
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Eva Ibbotson (born Maria Charlotte Michelle Wiesner) was a British novelist specializing in romance and children's fantasy.

She was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1925. When Hitler came into power, her family moved to England. She attended Bedford College, graduating in 1945; Cambridge University from 1946-47; and the University of Durham, from which she graduated with a diploma in education in 1965.
“Stupid women were lured into it and assured they would become young and beautiful if they let themselves be pummeled and pounded and smeared with sticky creams, and have their faces lifted and their stomachs flattened. They paid a lot of money to Madame Olympia, who would put a little bit of magic into the creams and ointments that she used so that at first they did look marvelous. But it was the kind of magic that wore off very quickly, leaving the women even uglier than before so that they would rush back to her and pay her more money and the whole thing would start again.” 9 likes
“But of course he knew, all of them knew. There is only one kind of a person a wizard can marry, and that is a witch.” 9 likes
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