Diary of Anna the Girl Witch by Max Candee and illustrated by Raquel Barros, e-book, 117 pages, published by Helvetic House in 2016.
Anna Sophia has lived in an orphanage since she was six. Her early years were spent in the care of Uncle Misha in the wilds of Serbia but she knows nothing about her birth parents or her family. On the night of Anna’s thirteenth birthday she is given some small clues about her heritage, including a carved hand that can come alive! Oh, and she’s a witch with developing powers that she must learn to control. Learning about herself is not the only thing on Anna’s mind though, her best friend was adopted by a rich couple nearby, and now she is acting very strangely. Anna decides to get to the bottom of things, but she may be facing more danger than she could have imagined!
I was captivated by this story from the first couple of chapters. The plot was interesting, engaging and flowed smoothly. I knocked it over quite quickly, enjoying the action and magic. The story was a little dark, but very good. It was short enough not to be intimidating for younger readers, but due to the themes of child slavery and kidnap, it may suit more mature readers, or require some adult guidance. I think it would best suit upper primary school and lower high school students.
I was surprised by the lack of surprise and fear form Anna’s friends when some of her powers were displayed. Instead of being scared or awed, Jean-Sebastien just thought it made her kind of cool in a weird way. I don’t think that’s the sort of reaction that most people would make on discovering their friend can perform magic.
There were some illustrations throughout the book. These were done as mostly black and white line drawings, with just a small part of each picture coloured. This really drew the eye to the coloured object, emphasising it. I liked this touch.
Anna was an interesting character. Each chapter began with a diary entry written by Anna, and then the story was continued from Anna’a first person perspective. I felt like I got to know her better with the addition of the diary entries. She was kind and protective of her friends, and I liked her. She developed much more awareness of herself through the story, learning about her past and about her capabilities. She also learns an important lesson about remaining kind and good, and not letting revenge or malice cloud her heart. This is a lesson we can all take on board.
Squire, the animated hand, was a little creepy! Who enchants a carved fist? He was very helpful for Anna though, and I’m sure he makes a good companion for a witch. He’s much easier to hide than a cat or a toad. I was glad he couldn’t talk though, that would have taken it too far!
Diary of Anna the Girl Witch finishes with and ending designed to lead onto a sequel. I was left wanting to read the next book soon; it promises to be an exciting series.
*I obtained this book as a digital copy from Netgalley. I did not receive any other remuneration, and this is an honest review composed entirely of my own opinions.