cover image The Witch Returns

The Witch Returns

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Rick Barba. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $14 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-385-30601-0

Here a villainous witch--who has been the scourge of a peaceful Indiana town for five previous Naylor novels--is back for a final round. Once again, it is up to Lynn Morley and her best friend Marjorie ``Mouse'' Beasley to fight off the powers of evil, but this time they have the full cooperation of Lynn's parents, Marjorie's father and Dr. Long, the school psychologist. Welcome as this help is to Lynn and Mouse, who have been battling valiantly for some time with scant assistance from family or friends, it also destroys any suspense that the novel might otherwise have had. With so much support on the side of good, the climactic confrontation is more a formality than a life-or-death struggle, and the ultimate victory is a foregone conclusion. This lack of suspense is especially disappointing because Naylor's imaginative weaving of witch lore into modern American life is as rich as in the earlier titles; her narrative efforts here, however, seem just shy of the mark. Illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 9-12. (Sept.)