Roald Dahl's Collection
Online Journey's Book Review Special


Unlike the usual description of withches in fairytales, real witches as described by Roald Dahl, do not wear pointy hats, ride brooms and have frizzy, scary hairdos. Real withches do dislike children very very much. Thus is the explanation of th boy's grandmother, who becomes his guardian after his parent die tragically in a car crash. Unfortunately, the boy stumbles inmto a witches' convention and transform into a mouse, but with the help of his wise, clever grandmother, they are able to make the world a happier witch-free place for children. The book's witches, described as "demons in human form", form a well-connected organization which aims to destroy children. No motive is given, other than witches' abhorrence of children, and the foul stench children give off to witches. This organization has branches in every country in the world, and is particularly powerful in Norway, where the origin of witches is said to have been and where, as a result, the witches' operation is known to all. The chapters in different countries are forbidden to communicate, although the witches in each country are generally all friends. Each witch seeks to eliminate at least one child per week. The grandmother describes how to recognize a witch: witches have no hair, and must therefore wear wigs directly on their naked scalps, resulting in a condition they call "wig-rash"; witches have thin, curved, claw-like fingernails that they must disguise with gloves; witches have no toes; a witch's spit is bright blue, leaving a pale bluish film on their teeth; and a witch has unusual pupils in which one may see "fire and ice dancing" in the centre. The boy implies also that ghouls and barghests exist, although not as dangerous as witches. The boy is warned by his grandmother of the leader of the witches, the Grand High Witch, the terrifying ruler of all the witches in the world. When the grandmother later becomes ill, their holiday to Norway is postponed in favour of a time in England. They stay at a luxury hotel, where they discover that the English witches have come to hold their annual meeting. At the annual convention of English witches (ironically disguised as a "Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children" convention), the Grand High Witch, angry at the witches' failure to destroy all of the children in England, unveils a master plan wherein the English witches should purchase sweet shops (using counterfeit banknotes given to them by the Grand High Witch) and give away free chocolate laced with Formula 86 Delayed Action Mouse Maker, a mixture which will change anyone who eats it into a mouse at a specific time. The witches are instructed by the Grand High Witch that the formula will activate at 9:00 a.m. the day after the children have eaten the chocolate, when they are at school. The teachers, she hopes, will panic and kill the mice, thereby doing the witches' work for them.The Grand High Witch turns a fat child named Bruno Jenkins (lured to the convention hall by the promise of free chocolate) into a mouse as a demonstration of her potion. Shortly after, the witches smell the narrator's presence (based on the premise that children smell repulsive to witches) and change him into a mouse by giving him an overdose of the formula.Luckily, the formula had overlooked one thing: the transformed child still keeps his mind, his personality, his sentience and his voice. The transformed boy returns to his grandmother's room, and tells her who he was and what he had heard. They steal a bottle of the witches' potion and pour it into the green pea soup in the kitchen reserved for the witches' dinner. The witches all turn into mice almost instantly, having ingested overdoses. The hotel staff panic and kill all England's witches in their form of mice. The boy and his grandmother then create a plan to use the potion recipe the witches created to attack the Grand High Witch's Norwegian headquarters, hoping to change all remaining witches into mice, release cats into the building to kill them, and then use the Grand High Witch's counterfeit money to fund a mission to repeat the process all over the world.
(reference: Wikipedia)


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