Which Witch? (novel)

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Which Witch?
Which Witch (Eva Ibbotson novel).jpg
Cover of some eds. perhaps from 2001
AuthorEva Ibbotson
CountryUnited Kingdom
GenreChildren's novel
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardcover, paperback)
ISBN0330398008 (2001)
LC ClassPZ7.I11555 Wh 1999[1]

Which Witch? is a children's novel by Eva Ibbotson published in 1979. The first U.S. edition was published by Dutton Children's Books in 1999 with illustrations by Annabel Large.[1]


The story begins when a wizard named Arriman the Awful living in Darkington Hall, decides to choose a wife from his hometown of Todcaster; his ulterior motive is a prophecy that foretells that another, darker wizard will take over Arriman's burden of smighting and blighting, which bores him by now. It is proposed by his servant that the prophecy must have meant Arriman's son. Since Arriman has no son, nor even a wife, he decides to hold a contest in which the seven witches of Todcaster (Mabel Wrack, Ethel Feebag, Mother Bloodworth, Nancy Shouter, Nora Shouter, Madame Olympia, and Belladonna) are to take part that will decide whom he will marry: whichever witch performs the blackest act of magic will be his bride. However, most of the witches of Todcaster are downright revolting and nasty. The exception to this is Belladonna, who is beautiful and secretly loves Arriman, but is a white witch, unable to perform any black magic.

Before the contest begins, Belladonna encounters a small orphan named Terrence Mugg and helps rescue him from the orphanage and a mean matron using an uncharacteristically dark spell to root the matron. Believing that Terrence's pet worm Rover is her familiar, an animal that is key to her working dark magic, she and Terrence agree to work together to win the competition.

While the other witches' magic goes hilariously or horribly wrong when it is their turn in the competition, there is one problem Belladonna didn't count on. Madame Olympia, a truly evil enchantress joins the contest and is willing to do anything to make sure she will win the hand of Arriman to gain his teeth for her necklace.

After spending time with Arriman, Terrence discovers the perfect piece of magic for Belladonna to do: raise the ghost of Sir Simon, Arriman's friend, which Arriman has been trying to do for years. Olympia, on her day, performs a terrifying piece of magic known as the "Symphony of Death." It seems that unless Belladonna can perform her necromancy, she will certainly lose.

However, the day before her turn, her familiar goes missing. Only Terrance knows, as Rover was with him at all times. Without telling Belladonna, Terrance devises a plan with Arriman's servants (who all agree that Belladonna would be the best wife for Arriman). Terrance goes into town to hire an actor to play Sir Simon. Belladonna, unaware that Rover is gone, performs as scheduled. After an amazing display, "Sir Simon" appears to everyone, alive. Arriman is overjoyed to see his friend.

One day after Belladona's act it is found out that Terrence is missing. He is found back at his old orphanage. A message from his mother that the actor was unable to arrive on time, however, jolts the plotters into the realization that Sir Simon has truly been resurrected. The same night, Terrence goes to the kitchen for a drink when the matron catches him. Out of nowhere, he turns her into a spider, then returns to Darkington. It turns out that Rover was kidnapped by Madame Olympia. Arriman and his servants successfully return Rover back to Belladona and it turns out that it was not Belladonna who completed the spell after all, but Terrence, who held Rover for all her performances and imitated her spell-casting. Delighted to have found his prophesied replacement, Arriman marries Belladonna and they take Terrence in as Arriman's pupil.


  1. ^ a b "Which witch?" (first US ed., 1999). LC Online Catalog. Library of Congress (lccn.loc.gov). Retrieved 2016-02-29.