Book Review: The Witches’ Kitchen by Allen Williams
The Witches’ Kitchen by Allen Williams
Published October 5th 2010 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: Paper Book
Length: 288 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Witches, Young Adult, Questing
Reading Level: It says Young Adult, but I think it would be fine for Middle Grade
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Deep in the walls of a witches’ cottage lays an ancient magical kitchen. Dangling over that kitchen’s cauldron, pinched between the fingers of two witches, is a toad. And the Toad has no idea how she got there, and no memory of even her name. All she knows is she doesn’t think she was always a Toad, or that she’s ever been here before. Determined to recover her memories she sets out on a journey to the oracle, and along the way picks up a rag-tag team of friends: an iron-handed imp, a carnivorous fairy, and a few friendly locals.
But the Kitchen won’t make it easy. It is pitch black, infinite, and impossible to navigate, a living maze. Hiding in dark corners are beastly, starving things. Worse yet are the Witches themselves, who have sent a procession of horrific, deadly monsters on her trail. With some courage and wisdom, the Toad just might find herself yet-and with that knowledge, the power to defeat the mighty Witches.
I want to take a moment to state that if I hadn’t been mindlessly browsing the shelves at my local library, I would have never found this book. So, the next time someone tells you that bookstores or libraries are outdated you can whack them in the head and remind them of the joys of aimlessly wandering around and finding a really great book that you would have had zero chance of coming across on the internet. The book I speak of is The Witches’ Kitchen by Allen Williams. This book gave me warm book fuzzes; the type of pleasure I get from a great fantasy book that is without the irritating clichés I often have to ignore in Young Adult fantasy books these days.
I have to admit that The Witches’ Kitchen reads more like a Middle Grade book, even though it’s marked as Young Adult. It’s a little creepy but there is nothing in there I wouldn’t want a young child to read. Plus, The Witches’ Kitchen has that creativity and originality that I only see in Middle Grade books. It lacks any type of romance angle and has the type of characters that I adore. The Kitchen is a world onto itself with a set of rules and laws unlike ours. It is a world that constantly changes with dangers around every corner. I would liken the world-building and tone to Splintered by A.G. Howard but without the annoying main characters that made me dislike that book. The Kitchen is a dark place with dark creatures and it’s fascinating. The characters are great and the plot pace fast. The Witches’ Kitchen is under 300 pages long, so there are no slow parts.
Every once and a while, I will stumble across a book that is classic fantasy and I just get that buzz of pleasure a good fantasy gives me. It does have the quest fantasy cliché, where a group goes on a quest to find something or fix something. (The Lord of the Rings has the quest cliché.) The conflict is pretty predictable. (As in it is obvious why the Witches want Toad.) But the journey is amazing. My favorite part is the clock and the Widow spiders. The details and side stories just add to the magic of the book. There are a ton of great illustrations. I’m so pleased that I stumbled across The Witches’ Kitchen by Allen Williams. It always pays to wander the bookshelves.