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Book Title: The Witches of Worm|
The author of the book: Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Date of issue: February 1st 1986
ISBN 13: 9780440497271
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 615 KB
Read full description of the books The Witches of Worm: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 it, but finds herself inexplicably drawn to it, waking up every two hours to care for it. While she feeds it she heaps verbal abuse on it, letting it know how disgusting she thinks it is.
She names it Worm. It's thin, grey, and sightless, and squirms around like an ugly worm.
Worm grows up, but he never becomes a cute kitten. Instead he transitions immediately from ugly, eyeless Worm to thin, grey, silent, slinking fully-grown Worm.
Unlike other cats, Worm never plays. He never meows. He's completely silent, exuding an anger and haughtiness that almost frightens Jessica.
Then he starts talking to her. Worm's howling, growling, scratchy voice tells Jessica the truth: "I am a witch's cat."
Who is the witch? Who would send this familiar to Jessica? (view spoiler)[ Jessica herself is the witch. (hide spoiler)]
Then Worm starts telling Jessica to do awful things. Evil things. Malicious things. And Jessica feels helpless to resist.
This book received a Newbery Award Citation in 1973. It is one of the most chilling and disturbing pieces of literature I've ever read. I was introduced to it as a child and it's haunted me all my life. I adore it, and hold it up as one of the best examples of children's literature ever written.
The book has been banned multiple times for themes of witchcraft and demons.
Another great facet to the book are its characters. Mrs. Fortune, the old, slightly "off" cat lady who lives in Jessica's building. She has a palsy - shakes constantly - and is bone-thin. She owns so many cats that the building stinks of them. But she loves the children in the building - Jessica and Brandon. Even though she looks like a witch, or a crazy loon, or a feeble old lady - she is none of these things. She's a person with a rich past and a vivid imagination. She's very mysterious, but loving and fair.
Brandon, Jessica's ex-best friend who threw her over for some boys from class. He's shockingly violent, punching Jessica when he doesn't get his way and displaying an awful temper. He also has a vivid imagination, and they've spent 7 year together acting out every book or movie they've ever seen or heard of. He's also, in some ways, a better person than Jessica, as (view spoiler)[ he shows compassion to Mrs. Fortune whereas Jessica has none, and he likes animals and protects them from abuse, and Jessica is an animal abuser. (hide spoiler)]
Joy, Jessica's only parent and a mostly absentee one. Pretty, thin, flirty, blonde - the spitting image of a famous Swedish actress - she is always out late with a man or working long shifts at her low-paying secretary job. She's concerned about Jessica but has no idea how to engage with a person who is technically her daughter but whom she has spent almost no time getting to know or understand. She sometimes criticizes herself for being a "terrible mother" but does absolutely nothing to modify or change her behavior. Jessica's obvious used to taking care of herself - going out on her own, cooking for herself, and doing the laundry.
A third layer is added as (view spoiler)[ you realize that Jessica is a Gone Girl in training. She is almost without conscience, lying, manipulative, and destructive. How far is she willing to go to get the world to bend to her will? It's chilling when you realize that Worm isn't a demon - but Jessica definitely is a witch...a witch who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Evil (or at least psychologically damaged) little girl (age 12) done here so well it sends chills down my spine. Is this because she's born this way? Because of her noticeable lack of any kind of parenting? Because her friends have abandoned her? I don't know. But she gives me goosebumps. (hide spoiler)]
I really, really love this book. When I was a little girl the library owned it on audio cassette tape and I would listen to it over and over and over again. It's so dark and disturbing and delicious. I highly recommend it to any kid, teen or adult.
P.S. The illustrations are astonishingly creepy.
Read information about the authorThe 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 younger children and a book of poetry.
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