Diana Wynne Jones Margery Fisher - Essay

Margery Fisher

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Comic witches are fashionable just now—likewise comic ghosts and familiars of various kinds. Fortunately, for every facetious tale centred on a broomstick-version of the banana-skin joke, there is one which uses humour as a way to set the anarchic impulses of youth in a new light. Like the necromantic academies described in recent years by Barbara Willard and Jill Murphy, Larwood House School is plagued by magic going awry but in Witch Week the magic is not a curriculum subject but a secret and forbidden undercurrent. This is one of those fantasies which describe in familiar and concrete terms an alternative world, one which diverged from our own back in the past when legislation against witches had to take into account the persistence of a genetic freak…. Diana Wynne Jones takes everyday incidents (lost running-shoes, illicit night-expeditions, water-fights) and gives them an edge of weird improbability, while the familiar rivalries and alliances of schooldays are made strangely urgent by the impending investigations from staff and outsiders. There seems no limit to this author's inventive energy; ingenious in plot, with a mock-casual twist at the end, her new book offers one more rollicking and provocative study of human behaviour. (p. 3984)

Margery Fisher, "Hauntings," in her Growing Point, Vol. 21, No. 4, November, 1982, pp. 3983-86.∗