Thursday, September 25, 2008


Edited by Denise Little
DAW Books
307 pages

When I started reading, back in the mid-1950s, through to end of my high school days in 1964, there were still dozens of periodicals that published short fiction. Everything from Redbook to Argosy and the Saturday Evening Post were available as outlets for short stories. Today those magazines are gone and with them, to a large degree, short fiction. Happily there is still one mainstay of this literary format still offering up these bite-sized nuggets of story telling and that is the anthology. One such collection is WITCH HIGH, edited by Denise Little.

The theme of the book revolves around a school for witches, Salem Township Public High School # 4. As most of us will attest, surviving high school is a rite of passion all Americans have had to endure and the experiences culled from those four years often times set the course, good or bad, for the remainder of our lives. Now imagine having to handle those awkward years and magical powers at the same time.

This is the central challenge to the characters in the 14 stories that make up this truly delicious anthology. There is not a dud in the bunch, each deftly written with a keen ear and eye for the angst-ridden lives of the typical teenager in today’s culture. Of the fourteen contributors, I was only familiar with two; Bill McKay and Diane Duane. McKay, oddly enough the only male writer on board, delivers the darkest tale with a poignant, heart-warming end. I’m familiar with much of Duane’s Star Trek fiction and she has the final tale in the book, which caps it all off wonderfully.

Other personal favorites included “Domestic Magic” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch and “You Got Served” by Ester M. Friesner. I also appreciated the fact that not all the stories starred the students of Witch High, but several featured the teachers and their daily trials and tribulations. All in all, WITCH HIGH is a place Harry Potter and his chums would feel right at home at, and I believe, so will you.

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