White Witch Pond

Shaya Solen’s walk home from school takes her past an eerie pond, where one day she finds an old bracelet made of raven feathers. Soon, strange events begin to unfold: a shadowy figure glimpsed across the water, ominous nightmares haunting Shaya, and rumours of a witch who once drowned in the pond. With the discovery of a strange family connection to the witch, Shaya is drawn into a mystery that looks like it must be solved before the approaching Halloween, which is the thirteenth anniversary of the witch’s death.

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Reviews

from Jackleen’s Library

Looking for something creepy to read, look no further. Jody Kihara has written a very spooky, spine tingling, hair standing up on the back of your neck witch/ghost story for teens and adults alike. Eerie ponds, dark winding streets in October, strange black dogs and even stranger creepy happenings all combine in a suspenseful quest to solve the mystery of a witch who drowned in a pond on Halloween thirteen years earlier.

Shaya and Dev Solen have just moved to a new city. The new neighbourhood is made up of a nest of winding streets in which the uninitiated are soon lost. As a rule, Shaya must walk home from school with her older brother. While taking a short cut through the park, they pass a pond, rumored to be the site of a drowning of a witch thirteen years earlier. Next to the pond Shaya finds a raven feather bracelet. The bracelet gives Shaya a very bad felling and she throws it away. Unfortunately, the bracelet is picked up and taken home by her brother. Shaya begins to see shadowy images of the witch both near the pond and at home. When her brother becomes ill and begins to behave strangely, Shaya knows she must investigate the death of the woman in the pond and return the raven bracelet. But where should she bring the bracelet? Now running around alone, by herself in the dark October evenings, Shaya sets out to investigate just what happened thirteen years earlier and to find the true meaning of the raven bracelet.

White Witch Pond is youth fiction, but since the arrival of Harry Potter and other children literature, adults have felt more comfortable reading books ear marked for kids. There is something to be said for a book that you can pick up and read in one sitting. Youth fiction, Harry Potter’s 700 plus pages aside, tends to be formatted for younger readers, therefore; shorter in length and designed to get the attention of younger readers quick and sustain this attention to the conclusion. In my opinion, those authors who write good youth fiction must have better writing technique then those writing for adults. They must employ fewer words, write more concisely and yet, at the same time deliver a high caliber plot driven story designed to keep children’s attention. Jody Kihara is a master at clean concise writing that grabs your attention from the creepy beginning to the not- a- Disney- ending, dramatic cemetery conclusion.

The suspenseful pace and creepy settings are straight out of a Stephen king horror book, minus the hand shooting out of the ground. Lost in twilight running down dark allies, being chased by a big scary black dog and shadowy glimpses of the witch near the pond and even in front of Shayas’ own home, added a spooky atmosphere to this fast paced book. This book is scary. I read this book from beginning to end in one night tucked up in my bed. I was caught up in the building suspense and at a point in the story where someone seemed to be sneaking up on our main character, Shaya, when my husband decided to walk into the bedroom, as he is wont to do for the last twenty years. Bad timing. I screamed. He nearly jumped out of his skin, and looked behind himself, because surely there must be an axe wielding mad man or maundering bear immediately behind him to cause such a reaction. What’s wrong with you, he yelled. (Years and a team of professionals might be able to come up with an answer to that!) Scary book, was my only answer. I had only intended to read the first couple of chapters but once I started reading I was hooked. (In all honesty, I needed the story resolved before I could sleep.)

The characters are well drawn and true to life, Mom acts like a typical busy mom, distracted and yelling. Older brother, Dev, is annoying in the way that all brothers are, pestering and superior. The relationship between siblings is very real with equal parts competive, antagonistic and loving. The main character Shaya is a bright twelve year old, full of the insecurities of a young girl in a new school and new neighborhood. Shaya employs great determination to resolve this mystery and does not give up despite being very frightened, and, uses good detective skills in order to save her brother.

I believe girls will like this book more than boys. The true depiction of the older brother’s taunts and lack of contribution to household chores may be a little too real for a boys taste. Shaya is a fine model for young girl as she demonstrates good problem solving and independent thinking. Although new in school, Shaya is able to maintain her own identity and does not allow herself to get caught up in the questionable activity of her new friends.

I thoroughly enjoyed this well written book and will certainly encourage my children read White Witch Pond. Jody Kihara has written 6 other books which we hope to read soon.

from Purple Jelly Bean Chair Reviews

When I started this book, I thought perhaps it might be to young of a YA Fiction for me, but to my great surprise I was very wrong. I really enjoyed this book very much, in fact I loved it!!! I just love it when I am contacted to read/review books, and often going into the book I am not sure what to expect and sometimes wonder if this type of book will be to young for me to read and enjoy, I love it when I am proven wrong, and with Jodi’s book I was very much proven wrong.

I really liked Shaya’s character, she is sweet and very intelligent for a main character that is only twelve. She is a strong young lady taking matters into her own hands to solve a mystery. When Shaya and her brother Dev were walking home through the woods they come across a bracelet made of feathers which soon she will find out it once belonged to a witch that died in the pond in the woods some 20-years ago. Shaya wants to throw it back but Dev brings it home. That same very night very strange things start happening, even her brother Dev starts getting sick and the Doctors can’t figure out why he is sick, it’s up to Shaya to figure out what is going on before they loose her brother Dev. With her mom always getting yelled at and taking her brothers side, Shaya defies her mom and pushes ahead to figure out the truth.

Once Shaya starts digging into the past she finds out some interesting things, now I’m not going to say what, that would only ruin the story for you, but I will say I really liked the old man and his dog that was introduced to the story, I really liked him and pay close attention to the part the dog plays it’s important.

Over all this is a fantastic story, the characters are perfectly developed and fit together perfect, Shaya might fight with her brother all the time Dev, but, you can clearly see her love for him at the same time.

The story line was played out very well, I love the details Jodi uses to create and set up the creepiness you feel as your reading the book, I loved the mystery and the suspense that kept you turning the pages, I couldn’t turn them quickly enough, but, I had to slow down so I didn’t miss any details at the same time. It reminded me of the new Paranormal Activity movies, kept you watching, kept you on the edge of your seat, and with out any notice WHAM something came at you and scared the bejesus out of you. I hope you will all pick up your copy of this fantastic book and enjoy reading it as much as I did. Enjoy!!!

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You read more reviews of White Witch Pond here, as well as interviews (here’s another) and guest posts!

Book Extras: Photos

Shaya’s walk past the pond

The location of the story is a fictional town, but it is based on a neighbourhood I used to live in. And yes, I walked past that creepy pond on my way to and from school!

In the map below, the blue line shows Shaya’s route from her house to school; the purple line is when she gets lost trying to take the back route home. She tried to shortcut around the other side of the pond, but the streets have a habit of suddenly pinballing you. As you can see, Shaya wasn’t joking when she said the neighbourhood was like a maze. And yes, I got lost in it too… in my two years there, I never did learn the back route from the school!

Click on the photo to enlarge it.
Map

The Pond

The photo below is the actual pond.
White Witch PondOn a sunny day, it looks less eerie… but still creepy in parts!
The Pond

Characters

I love it when I come across photos that could be characters or scenes from my book. This isn’t exactly how I first pictured Shaya, but this photo is definitely growing on me!
Shaya SolenKeema and Targa
Keema Targa

And how perfect is this photo? I couldn’t believe it when I found it; this is exactly how I pictured the witch!
The witch