Size Doesn’t Matter (193): Danny the Champion of the World; The Apprentice Witch

Size Doesn’t Matter (193): Danny the Champion of the World; The Apprentice WitchDanny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
Narrator: Peter Serafinowicz
Length: 4 hrs, 27 mins
Published by Listening Library on March 3, 2016
Genres: Classics
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
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one-star

Puffin Audiobooks presents Roald Dahl's classic Danny the Champion of the World, read with warmth by the actor and comedian Peter Serafinowicz.

Danny thinks his dad is the most marvellous and exciting father any boy ever had - but Danny's dad has a very big secret.

This secret leads them both into the strangest adventure of their lives, and a daring plot that makes Danny the champion of the world.

After a break, I decided to revisit Roald Dahl again. Sure, it didn’t turn out well before, but some of them have to be enjoyable still. Probably some of them are (god I hope Matilda is still good), but this one sure as hell is not. Unless you’re really fucking into pheasant poaching.

In things that aren’t especially relatable to someone who grows up in a modern American landscape, pheasant poaching ranks pretty damn high. I’m not sure if I read this one as a kid, but as an adult I spent all the time where I wasn’t nodding off scratching my head. It’s really strange to me that this whole book is about pheasant poaching.

It’s also really, really strange to me that we’re meant to believe pheasant poaching is a good thing. I mean, sure, the bad guy bought the pheasants to hunt them and he literally kicked a puppy, but like poaching is theft? And everyone’s okay with this? Plus, like, I know they don’t end up killing all the pheasants but they absolutely could have (and probably would have tbh). I found the whole thing really fucking boring, because it’s just a bunch of really slow descriptions of how you catch pheasants (elaborate plots involving raisins).

Fun fact: this book introduces the BFG in a completely useless chapter that is the dad telling Danny a story that has nothing to do with anything. Stopping for a story that doesn’t advance the plot is not excellent craft, but it’s historically interesting.

Another thing that makes this book weird is that, at the end, there’s this moral of sorts about parenting. Basically, kids deserve “sparky” parents, and apparently that means parents who get their kids involved in life-threatening heist plans for kicks.

I absolutely 100% do not get this book. The narration is good, but that was nowhere near enough to make me care about this shit.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

I received this book for free from ALA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (193): Danny the Champion of the World; The Apprentice WitchThe Apprentice Witch by James Nicol
Published by Chicken House on July 25, 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
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three-stars

A special middle grade debut of magic and courage in a world of witches, written with the charm and enchantment of Circus Mirandus and The Apothecary.

Arianwyn has flunked her witch's assessment: She's doomed. Declared an apprentice and sent to the town of Lull in disgrace, she may never become a real witch-- much to the glee of her arch-rival, Gimma.

But remote Lull is not as boring as it seems. Strange things are sighted in the woods, a dangerous infestation of hex creeps throughout the town, and a mysterious magical visitor arrives with his eye on her.

With every spirit banished, creature helped, and spell cast, Arianwyn starts to get the hang of being a witch--even if she's only an apprentice. But the worst still lies ahead. For a sinister darkness has begun to haunt her spells, and there may be much more at stake than just her pride . . . for Arianwyn and the entire land.

My expectations for The Apprentice Witch were pretty low. This is one of those books I wasn’t going to pick up at ALA, but when it’s handsold to you by David Levithan you smile and you take the book (or at least I do). Though not precisely a Christina book, I was impressed with The Apprentice Witch, though readers may struggle with the pacing.

The writing in The Apprentice Witch is excellent. It really does have a feeling of magic to it, in a way that’s totally not quantifiable. Similarly, the world building is really cool. However, there’s very little plot to the book. Arianwyn doesn’t pass her witch’s test but is assigned to serve as an “apprentice” witch to a small town, defending them from magical incursions. I guess the plot is basically about her getting to be an actual witch, but also not really. The dangerous thing they have to fight only appears about halfway through the book. While I absolutely did like all of the book, there’s no real driving force forwards through the book. It’s good, but it’s very slow.

It’s weird, because there wasn’t a lot of plot, but I actually think I would have loved this if it had been the opening of a series, rather than a standalone. Obviously, it would need a plot arc still, but there’s an adorable, burgeoning middle grade ship and solid characterization across the board that could have developed into something phenomenal.

The Apprentice Witch will impress those who have patience with slower reads that aren’t particularly plot-driven. Come for the excellent world building, and stay for the quirky and delightful cast.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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