by Diana Wynne Jones
In what seems to be Diana Wynne Jones
' first novel, the trouble starts when Frank and his sister Jess have their allowance stopped for four months. What choice do they have, but to go into business for themselves? And the business they go into is the Revenge Business, or in the British tongue, "Own Back Ltd."
They don't end up making any money at it, but they get into lots of trouble. First the town bully hires them to get a "tooth for a tooth." Then two little girls hire Frank and Jess to do something about the local witch, Biddy Ironmonger, who has put the evil eye on one of the sisters. Then a boy from the "big house" demands help shaking off the same little girls, who have been persecuting him because his family took over their house when all their money and valuables "went."
Pretty soon things get even more tangled. The tooth ends up being used to put a curse on the wrong person. Nine boys sell themselves to evil, and will do anything to stop Frank and Jess and their new friends from finding the lost heirlooms that will restore a family's fallen fortunes. A "desprit" little boy hires Frank and Jess to free his older brothers who are part of the sold-to-evil gang. And between adults who are under Biddy's control, and the watchful eye of Biddy's cat, and other hazards of searching for lost treasure around a crumbling house while an evil witch is throwing curses around, the plot thickens and thickens.
Finally, when fifteen desprit (sic) kids take the battle to the witch's own turf, it's soup. A stew, really, of scary magic, fairy-tale whimsy, the high spirits of children, and a bit of Ms. Jones' trademark slipping-between-dimensions. Loaded with characters who become unlikely friends, and a witch who seems the likeliest enemy of all, Witch's Business will charm your socks off (in one sense of the word or another).
Recommended Age: 10+
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