Witches Kitchen by Allen Williams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Witches’ Kitchen by Allen Williams is a brilliantly written and gorgeously illustrated young adult novel that deserves a very large audience. Williams has been a prolific and superb artist for years, and now he’s unlocked his tremendous talent for writing. His paintings always told a story and now, thankfully for us, he’s written one of them down. The forty original pencil illustrations add to a fantastical journey in the infinitely large and dangerous magical kitchen owned by two malevolent witches. The main character, Toad, is about to be killed by the witches who are planning to steal Toad’s magical powers when she manages to escape their clutches—but ends up in a very fascinating place—the Kitchen.
Poor little Toad, who is not really a Toad, and can’t remember who she really is, meets all sorts of enthralling characters as she tries to escape the kitchen and recover her memories. She is accompanied on her journey by one of my favorite characters ever, NatterJack, an iron-handed imp who doesn’t want to become an evil demon like his despicable father and much prefers exploring his artistic side; a sword-wielding carnivorous fairy who would be utterly terrifying if she weren’t three inches tall; and a couple of other unique characters, Sootfoot and Pug, who provide lots of laughs.
Reading this novel aloud would be so much fun, as the inventiveness, great dialogue, and craziness of the pitch-black, constantly changing and living kitchen brings one amazing scene after another.
As I read the book, my imagination soared and I kept seeing the scenes unfolding like a great Hollywood movie, which this book certainly could become someday. The book is a little complicated and scary for younger kids, and they might not follow the storyline all the time, but overall young adults and older readers will be thoroughly entertained from beginning to end. The Witches’ Kitchen is Neil Gaiman’s Coraline mixed with The Wizard of Oz, and a generous helping of Terry Gilliam’s movie Time Bandits with the stunning visuals of Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal.
Author of The Golden Cord
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