Begone, the Raggedy Witches by Celine Kiernan


Goodreads: Begone, the Raggedy Witches
Series: The Wild Magic Trilogy #1
Source: Library
Published: Feb. 2018


Years ago, Aunty ran with Mup and her mam, taking them from the realm of the witches across the border to the human world.  Now Aunty is dead and her magic no longer protects them.  And the Raggedy Witches come, stealing Mup’s father.  So Mup and her mam cross the border to save him.  Aunty always warned them to avoid the realm of the witches at all costs.  But suddenly Mup’s mam seems like she might want to take back the throne that could have been hers.

Star Divider


Begone, the Raggedy Witches is a thrilling children’s fantasy that feels like an instant classic.  A world-crossing adventure with a hint of Faerie, it takes readers across the border to a land where an evil witch rules by forbidding magic and hobbling language.  The elements may seem familiar, but Celine Kiernan uses them to create an original, immersive world sure to delight fans of fantasy.

The story opens strong and never flags, as readers get to journey with three women from three different generations as they seek to rescue Mup’s father from the witches who kidnapped him.  It quickly becomes clear, however, that a simple rescue operation may not be their only task. The realm of the witches needs them, even if some of them are not willing to help.  The old magic is outlawed and certain males are forbidden to speak except in rhyme, meaning they cannot communicate as effectively as they might like; poor rhymers are all but rendered silent.  Questions arise about who gets to wield power and how and why–and why some choose to ignore suffering rather than fight to end it.

Perhaps of all the issues raised, the most poignant stems from Mup’s question of why some people seem to be offered more protection than others.  Aunty tells Mup that her family would do anything to keep her safe because they love her.  But does that mean those who are unloved or unwanted must not be protected?   Who is considered important–and why?  Shouldn’t adults work to protect all children, not just their own?  In a world at war, how do adults choose who lives and who dies?  These questions resonate throughout the book as Mup repeatedly seeks to offer protection to those whom the adults seem not to value.  In doing so, she reminds readers that a true hero is one who recognizes the inherent value in every person, not just the powerful or the politically relevant or even the likable.

Begone, the Raggedy Witches the kind of story that reminds readers just how good fantasy can be.  Lead by a trio of strong protagonists, set a in magic and wondrous world, and driven by questions of power and ethical duty, this is a book that will have readers eager for the sequel.

4 stars

14 thoughts on “Begone, the Raggedy Witches by Celine Kiernan

  1. Miri ♪ Book Dragoness ♪ says:

    Glad to hear you liked it! I have it in my TBR, and I’m happy I did check it out from the library because a mix of familiar fantasy elements+originality are my Thing.


    • Krysta says:

      I loved it so much I ILLed one of Kiernan’s other books, The Poison Throne. It’s obviously different since it’s an adult fantasy, but I am loving the complexity of the characters.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Krysta says:

          I’ve just finished and am trying to sort out my thoughts. I suppose it could be called character-driven in the sense that not much happens plotwise–it’s obviously all a set-up to get the protagonist out of the palace and on the road at the end of the book. And I think it’s not as tightly or professionally written as Begone, the Raggedy Witches. But I think fans of books like Six of Crows might like how the characters all seem to have dark sides or feel compelled to do immoral things in order to survive at court.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Miri ♪ Book Dragoness ♪ says:

            Wait? Does it have a lot of political intrigue? I don’t know what that says about me, but I’m a huge fan of reading it 😂


            • Krysta says:

              You know, that’s an interesting question. I think you could say it’s political intrigue because the protagonist returns to court after years away to find the king has made drastic changes and turned tyrant. So she has to lie low and figure out what’s happening without getting into trouble. However, she mainly interacts with two people and her father, which is highly unusual for a book about court politics!

              Liked by 1 person

  2. Michael J. Miller says:

    Oh my gosh I’m a terrible rhymer! I’d be sunk in this world! Who would’ve ever thought, the thing that holds me back from being an expert (or even competent) at freestyle rap battles would be the same thing to hobble me in a fantasy world? My inability ti rhyme effectively aside, the novel sounds wonderful and definitely worth checking out. It wasn’t even on my radar so thanks for the head’s up!


    • Krysta says:

      I know! Rhyming on command isn’t always the best way to get an exact meaning across! I do have friends who I think would be quite good at it, though.

      This is really a great book! I’d be wondering why more fantasies don’t deal with Faerie. There are a lot of secondary worlds and epic adventures, but not so many stories that go along the traditional lines of having the hero cross a boundary (usually a forest) and finding a fairyland. Then I found this book and it captured a bit of that magic!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Michael J. Miller says:

        Um, I may’ve read this two or three times to see if you rhymed it :). Hahaha, because when I started it, for some reason, I thought you were going to! Rhyme scheme aside, I’m with you. I was just thinking of the fantasy novels I’ve read and if they incorporate Faerie at all, it’s a minor interlude in a much larger story. But there’s so much untapped story potential there!


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