Here, but also in the BFG it’s clear how Dahl’s stories for children do not have only positive elements because the target are the children.
In the BFG the giants were evil and desired only to each childs, in The witches the horrific element are these evil figures, whose only aim is to make every children disappear and suffer.
The novel main character is an orphan, and he lives with his Norway grandmother in England where he studies, this being the last desire of his parents. And it is his grandmother that talks to him about witches, since she once used to hunt them all over the world. We then learn with him to identify them and to understand they way of doing evil. The protagonist himself will encounter witches, and this is what the novel is about.
Re-reading it I noticed some details that previously I skipped; above the scary element (the witches) that is a fantastic one, the author puts in the novel some things that are truly scary: the parents death, but also the image of the sick grandmother with pneumonia, she being in the bed with strange machines around, and the perspective to become truly alone in the world.
As every Dahl’s novel I suggest to read it, it’s funny – but not predictable – and engaging.
* The Witches by Roald Dahl ★★★★☆½
*I read this book in italian & english