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THE DOOMSPELL by Cliff McNish

THE DOOMSPELL

By Cliff McNish (Author) , Geoff Taylor (Illustrator)

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: June 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-8037-2710-0
Publisher: Putnam

A monumental battle of good versus evil pits children against an ancient witch outcast from earth. Rachel and her brother Eric are literally pulled amid wind and darkness into this world by the monstrous claws of a black creature. The evil witch, Dragwena, recognizes Rachel’s unusual power, begins her tutelage, and attempts to make Rachel her accomplice in revenge for her expulsion from earth centuries ago. All the inhabitants on the planet are in the thrall of Dragwena, yet some have gathered together to be ready for the child-hope prophesied. The evil is the stuff of nightmares; red-eyed wolves, worms that cling, crows with baby heads, and especially Dragwena, who has a snake for a necklace, tattooed green eyes that can meet at the back of her head, and four jaws of teeth that produce spiders instead of spit. McNish creates a surprisingly coherent fantasy world that still has multiple magical transformations on practically every page. Not for the fainthearted: heads are chopped off, spiders are eaten, blood turns yellow, ears are torn, and there is no attempt to soften or keep the battle offstage. The magic here is vivid and the underlying themes sufficiently subtle, yet curiously, it is hard to be truly engaged. The world of Ithrea is splashy and busy like a movie full of special effects that forgets the humanity of its characters. The nonstop action is a big asset for this, but it allows no time to become attached to the characters or empathize with the downtrodden. An opportunity for a sequel is provided at the end—an attractive option for those who care more for pyrotechnics than characters. (Fiction. 10-14)