Reviews /

The Rage of the Sea Witch

Authored by Roland Chambers
Published by Zephyr

The Rage of the Sea Witch is a magical story of adventure, spirits and discovery. This is the first instalment of a new series centred around crucial points in human history.

It is the school holidays and Billy Shaman is all too familiar with long weeks alone. This summer follows the same old trend; his go-getting parents have gone off exploring and have discarded him at a crusty old museum. Watched over by the mundane Mr and Mrs Cript, Billy attempts to alleviate a summer of boredom by exploring the museum. It is not long before Billy bumps into a talking tortoise and learns that all is not as it seems. The discovery of an ancient Inuit necklace sets Billy on a path to the past and into the freezing Arctic. Here, Billy unearths his secret powers, meets Ahnah, a Seawitch and a trickster explorer named Pytheas. With this great power comes a great responsibility, and Billy bring back more than he bargained for when he returns to the present day!

With mythology woven throughout, Billy’s adventure could offer a springboard for pupils to find out more about traditional Inuit stories. Without giving the plot away, children will enjoy finding out more about Inuit beliefs, the significance of the mysterious Sea Witch and the story behind the story. Chambers’ tale would slot in nicely as a supportive text for an explorer unit of work in KS2, or even within a Greek topic. After reading the story, I was interested to discover the history of Pytheas and his highly debated explorations into the Arctic. I am sure children will find this piece of contested history fascinating too.

This story is relatively short and the plot unfolds in under 180 pages. The book feels quite slim when held in the hand, which would remove any sense of threat felt by children that are continuing to develop their reading stamina. Chambers’ narrative has a light-hearted and humorous tone, and children will delight in some of the eccentric and blunderous characters. With Chambers’ lively illustrations breaking up the narrative, this text would suit pupils that are still developing their confidence with reading longer texts in Lower KS2. This is set to be an intriguing series for fans of history and it is great to see such a punchy story presented in a shorter format.