________________ CM . . . . Volume V Number 6 . . . . November 13, 1998

cover The Witcher.

Joan Weir.
Victoria, BC: Polestar Book Publishers, 1998.
157 pp., paper, $8.95.
ISBN 1-896095-44-5.

Subject Heading:
Detective and mystery stories.

Grades 5 - 9 / Ages 10 - 14.
Review by Darleen Golke.

*** /4


"The witcher holds the rod loosely in his hand and if there's any gold or water in the ground the rod pulls in that direction."

Even Bobbi was looking skeptical. "If that's true, and if people can find things like gold or uranium with a bit of aluminum rod, why aren't more people witchers?"

"They don't have enough electricity."

"The rods?"

"The people. Most people would probably register about three on a body electricity test. A good witcher would score more than twenty."

Lion sank back against the car seat. "You know what I think?" His face was serious and thoughtful.

Dad and Bobbi waited.

"That witchers should be careful not to drag their feet over any heavy carpets in the winter."

In vain, 12-year-old Lion argues against accompanying Dad and his older sister, Bobbi, on a trip north to Wells, BC, old gold rush country. Dad has been asked to investigate the legalities of an adoption case involving Spud, an orphaned, young female "witcher." Three candidates vie for custody of Spud, prompting Dad to wonder "whether these people are asking for guardianship rights so they can look after Spud, or so Spud can look after them." Rumours of a cache of hidden gold nuggets in the area, a valuable ranch, and the prospect of finding water in a desert-like area might explain the potential guardians' motives.

      In Wells, after settling at the "most woebegone motel Lion had ever imagined," he and Bobbi unload the horses, Brie and Rajah, the latter horse-hating Lion's new mount. Dad begins his investigation by visiting Spud's aunt, Mrs. Goodchild, at her ranch. Her behaviour and that of her son, Riley, awaken suspicion in Lion and Bobbi, especially after she tells them Spud is in bed ill when they have already seen her outside. Further investigations conducted by Lion and Bobbi appear to confirm the Goodchilds as villains. The elusive Spud, meanwhile, sensing she is being watched, continues witching determined to complete a search her late father had initiated.

      The plot of the mystery moves briskly focusing on Lion's and Bobbi's investigation surrounding Spud and rumours of a cache of gold nuggets hidden in an abandoned mine shaft. The catalyst for the action, Spud, appears fleetingly - Weir allocates only four short chapters to showcasing Spud's point of view. The "crime," the purpose of Spud's quest, and the true villain do not become clear until the final chapters. Weir relies on fast-paced repartee to establish relationships among the characters and move the story along. Young mystery fans will find engaging characters and plenty of action in The Witcher although they may find some aspects of the plot rather contrived and may wonder why Lion, rather than Bobbi, gets to be the main protagonist. The publishers plan a sequel for 1999 publication.


Darleen Golke is the teacher-librarian at Fort Richmond Collegiate in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364