The Witches: The Graphic Novel by Roald Dahl, Adapted and Illustrated by Pénélope Bagieu (ARC Review)


Goodreads: The Witches: The Graphic Novel
Series: None
Source: ARC from Edelweiss
Published: September 1, 2020


Witches despise nothing more than children, and they will do everything in their power to eradicate every last one from England! When an eight-year-old boy meets the Grand High Witch and learns of her evil plot, it is up to him and his grandmother, along with a new friend, to save the children. A graphic novel adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic novel.

Star Divider


The Witches: The Graphic Novel is a compelling adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic novel. It embraces the slightly scary, but also funny, tone of the original, delivering a book that is sure to enthrall readers with its brave heroes and their quirky adventures. Readers who may not have picked up a Roald Dahl work on their own may be inspired to see what else he has written after being introduced to his imagination with this beautifully-illustrated adaptation.

One of the aspects of The Witches I have always loved is the relationship between the boy and his grandmother. Many children’s books, of course, simply dispose of the parents altogether, so that the kid protagonists can experience danger and excitement unimpeded. Even the stories with adult authority figures, however, may not focus on grandparents. That Dahl chooses to feature a grandmother is therefore very special–and what a grandmother she is! She clearly loves her grandson dearly, but she does not coddle him, instead warning him of the perils of witches (and thereby possibly scarring him for life), and then allowing him to fight the witches because he believes it is right. She deftly balances her desire to care for him with her knowledge that she has to allow him room to grow.

The grandmother, however, is not merely wise and lovable–she is also hilarious! The Witches is actually rather a creepy book–the titular characters really will do anything to rid the world of children and Dahl does not let his characters get away easily. So it is important that the story adds a bit of levity through the grandmother. She keeps the book from becoming too overwhelming for readers, allowing them to see that, even though there are scary things out in the world, there is also love, and laughter, and fun. She really is the heart of the story.

Pénélope Bagieu’s illustrations are a good fit for Dahl’s story. The color palette is eye-catching and the art style is one that will likely appeal to children, while also maintaining a bit of that quirky edge readers may associate with Dahl. The panels expertly and smoothly guide readers through the story; this is no clunky adaptation, but a work that feels like it could have been written as a graphic novel from the start. Even readers who are not usually attracted to graphic novel adaptations of classic novels may inadvertently be lured in by this one.

The Witches: The Graphic Novel expertly captures the spirit of Dahl’s story and transforms it into a new medium sure to attract a new contemporary audience. Fans of Dahl’s work will want to check this one out, but it stands on its own and will likely find its own readership, as well.

4 stars

2 thoughts on “The Witches: The Graphic Novel by Roald Dahl, Adapted and Illustrated by Pénélope Bagieu (ARC Review)

  1. Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

    I am intrigued by a graphic novel adaption of Dahl’s work. Any of his works! Quentin Blake’s artwork is so iconic — you’d have to be a brave artist to adapt and recreate his art.

    That said, I’m totally curious. As you might have seen in my own recent Classic Remarks post, I want to re-read The Witches as an adult. Perhaps I’ll appreciate it more now and be less terrified? Who knows! This would be a great re-introduction.


    • Krysta says:

      It IS difficult to imagine a Roald Dahl book without Quentin Blake’s illustrations. I think this graphic novel adaptation is supposed to appeal to new readers who aren’t familiar with Dahl and who might not pick up a “classic” work otherwise. So they might not know what they are missing!

      Liked by 1 person

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