Set in a small village separated from a once-powerful kingdom by a mystical, moving forest, The Witch’s Boy is a fable filled with unlikely friendships, creatures and humans dealing with loss, rulers struggling for power and the world’s last remaining bit of real magic.
Ned and Tam, the inseparable twin sons of the woman known only as Sister Witch and her woodsman husband, live on the edge of their small—and small-minded—village. One fateful day, the boys decide to build a raft and float down the nearby Great River to the sea. But when their raft crumbles in the river’s rapids, their father only has enough time to save Ned from the deathly currents. Sister Witch tries to revive her son, but she knows this is a lost cause and is unwilling to bear losing both her children. Instead, she uses her magic to bind Tam’s soul to the fading Ned. But the magic is dangerous and not without consequences.
Elsewhere in the woods, the fire-haired Bandit King longs to reclaim the world’s lost magic and use it for his own gain. When he discovers that Sister Witch possesses the last bit of it, he attempts to take it by force. But when Ned tries to stop him by binding the magic to his own body, he gets swept up in an adventure that has him crossing paths with the smart and self-sufficient Áine of the woods and a young wolf that seems to understand much more than it should.
In The Witch’s Boy, Parents’ Choice Gold Award winner Kelly Barnhill sucks the reader into a moving and expansive story she started crafting accidentally on a walk in the woods with her young son. As her fable unfolds, we learn from her cast of characters that the magic and powers we all possess can manifest in any number of unexpected ways.
Justin Barisich is a freelancer, satirist, poet and performer living in Atlanta. More of his writing can be found at littlewritingman.com.