Like all Roald Dahl's masterpieces, The Witches feeds on a child's innate delight in delicious horror. It also carries a powerful message, revealing that all is not what it seems!
The story portrays clearly the message that anasty person can masquerade as a good one, like the witches with their wigs covering warty, itchy scalps and fashionable shoes containing ugly, contorted feet.
Basically the story is the age old tale of good triumphing over evil, with a great deal of terrifying obstacles to overcome on the way!
No-one should have the temerity to summarise this story for those who are not familiar with it. If I revealed the plot, it would detract from the joy of surprise! It is a book to read a young child at bedtime (but leave the light on after you have finished the current chapter!) or to enjoin an older child to read alone. It is also a story for parents to indulge in, for the pleasure of the prose and the psychological benefits of looking at the world through their child's eyes.
Roald Dahl equates with Hans Christian Anderson as a master of the fairy-tale genre. No child should grow up without fairy-tales, which all have a moral that is firmly rooted in reality.
The "Grand High Witch" in this story reminds me of the stale-smelling aunt whom I was forced to kiss at family gatherings. How wonderful to know that she could well have been a real evil witch who secretly desired to turn me into a mouse! She never succeeded, but perhaps her flinty stare did me more damage than I realise? Or perhaps the fact that she did not succeed has made me a stronger person? Either way, there is much to be gained from delving into this fantastic tale, whether you are six or sixty!