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The Witches of Worm

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  2,003 Ratings  ·  204 Reviews
Cats. Jessica's never liked them. Especially not a skinny, ugly kitten that looks like a worm. Worm. Jessica wishes she'd never brought Worm home with her, because now he's making her do terrible things. She's sure she isn't imagining the evil voice coming from the cat, telling her to play mean tricks on people. But how can she explain what's happening?

Witches. Jessica h
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published September 15th 2009 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (first published 1972)
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Joe Valdez
Autumn's witch-a-thon continues with my introduction to the fiction of Zilpha Keatley Snyder, her Newberry Medal winner The Witches of Worm. Published in 1972, the book arrived on my radar by virtue of its stellar reviews and while I'm very critical of what's become known as the Young Adult genre, I'm not above enjoying them, particularly those in the vein of Lois Duncan where teenagers vulnerable to the whims of adults encounter the supernatural. Terror and adolescence go hand in hand in this s ...more
May 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 04, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Cameron Chaney
I remember seeing this book everywhere when I was a kid, with hundreds of different covers, but I finally decided to give it a go when I saw it on the Bookmobile. I really like this. It has that perfect vibe of the classic children's books I read as a kid, probably because it is one of those books. It's literary and doesn't talk down to its audience, but it is also simple to read.

Overall, its a breezy, slightly spooky book that I highly recommend!
I suggest reading Joe's review - - if you want a better plot synopsis.

Essentially, Jessica becomes convinced that her kitten Worm is a witch's cat, and he is getting inside her head, making her do bad things.

This is honestly a very good book, and the author certainly deserved the Newberry Award. It is a troubling look at a disturbed girl's life, and I think it works better as a book for adults, rather than children. Snyder's scenes between mother and dau
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
Jan 22, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: actually-scary
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
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.
"We invite our own devils and we ourselves must exorcise them."

This was an interesting read. Jessica is a lonely preteen girl whose mother, Joy, neglects, and her friend, Brandon, abuses (he hits her). Jessica herself is rather mean-spirited with no compassion for animals. She finds this kitten, a rare breed called an Abyssinian, and Jessica is disgusted by the kitten. She reluctantly takes care of it and her mother names it Worm.

Jessica becomes more and more unhinged as the book progresses. Sh
May 22, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 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
Oct 25, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
Jul 10, 2013 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
Oct 01, 2007 marked it as to-read-own  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007-to-read-own
Kindle Daily Deal 7/30/14 $1.99.
Amy Roebuck
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a fan of Zilpha Keatley Snyder--was as a child; was as a parent of four; am now as a lifelong library worker. The children who are her protagonists and secondary characters all ring true, even when there is a mist of exciting magic or supernatural about their adventures.

Friends and I are reading our way through the Newbery Award books (and many of the Honour titles), and it is a pleasure to find a Snyder book among them now and then.
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really great book to read during fall.
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
Luke Baldock
Mar 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Rob Boley
Jul 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Linda Lipko
Jun 17, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.

Oct 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids-stuff
There is a definite common theme in Ziplha Keatley Snyder's many books - there is always a hint of mystery and magic, but what it comes down to is she writes about troubled kids. The Witches of Worm is no exception.

It's a very well done portrait of a lonely girl without friends, a single working mother and an imagination that gets the best of her. Unlike many of the classic young adult novels coming from the 1970s, Witches of Worm is fairly timeless, with only a few references to money that migh
Sep 28, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens-books
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.
Jan 29, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
dead letter office
i read this as a kid and should reread it as an adult. most books for kids aren't nearly so sinister.
Kate Hastings
Sep 14, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: grades 5-7
Shelves: scaryjfic
A possessed cat causes lots of bad things to happen. TOTALLY creepy.
Kat Mandu
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kat Mandu says...

Written in 1970, Witches of Worm introduces us to a very different kind of middle-grade. In this short book, Jessica is a twelve-year-old girl who “rescues” a cat she names Worm, only to discover the decision may lead to her own demise.

Maybe people who read this in the seventies wouldn’t have realized that the lead character of Witches of Worm, Jessica, is actually well on her way to becoming a sociopath. Seriously, this girl has some issues. She can lie well and displace the bl
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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 began writing books for children in 1964 when her first book, "A Season of Ponies," was published. Over the course of the career she completed 43 books, mostly for children aged 9 to 13, but also including two books for young adults, four picture books for y ...more
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“Belief in mysteries, any manner of mysteries, is the only lasting luxury in life.” 23 likes
“Belief in mysteries—all manner of mysteries—is the only lasting luxury in life.” 4 likes
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