witch catcher cover

Witch Catcher by Mary Downing

Witch Catcher by Mary Downing Hahn (2006) is a wonderful tale woven of fantasy, imagination, and more than a hint of witchcraft. The story is about a 12 year old girl named Jen who finds herself in the middle of a war between two enchanted races. The book is told from her point of view.

Jen and her father live in an old castle in the middle of West Virginia. In the castle tower, Jen finds, then breaks, a hollow globe that displays a rainbow of colors as it catches light. As it shatters, the globe -- or "witch catcher" as she later learns it is called -- releases Kieryn, a magical fairy. Kieryn explains to Jen that Moura, Jen's soon-to-be stepmother, is a "witch of the twelfth degree" -- extremely evil. Working together, Jen and Kieryn must defeat Moura and free Jen's dad from Moura's spell. And did I mention Moura also captured Kieryn's three aunts and a brother? Obviously, this book incorporates a complicated storyline. During their exploits, in scenes that are both humorous and frightening, Jen and Kieryn are turned into cats, get chased by a ferret and destroy an antique shop. Is that jam-packed action or what?

My favorite scene takes place as Jen is freeing Kieryn's aunts from witch catchers. Jen smashes the beautiful globes, resulting in multiple flashes of green light as fairies escape. Kieryn's brother, Bryann, is one of those who is released. After reuniting, Kieryn, Bryann and Jen change into mice to flee Ciril, Moura's accomplice, who heard the smashing of the glass. As mice they face another problem. Ciril sends a ferret or, as Bryann calls it, a tunnel beast, through their escape hole. The ferret is gaining, close enough for them to feel his warm breath. Suddenly the ferret's fairy and human dinner disappears! Well, not really. Now the kids are transformed to "small beasties" (aka ants) and are virtually invisible.

After escaping the "tunnel beast" the kids still have an uphill battle against Moura ahead of them. In conclusion, Witch Catcher is an outstanding story that exeeded all my expectations. I'd love to be able to compare it to another book, but it is so unique, none even come close. Witch Catcher is an amazing fantasy story unlike any other.


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