Product Details

$14.95  $13.75
Big Mouth House
Publish Date
5.7 X 8.4 X 1.1 inches | 0.95 pounds

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

John Schoffstall has published short fiction in Asimov's, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Interzone, Strange Horizons, and other venues. He is a physician, and once practiced Emergency Medicine. Now he follows Candide's advice and tends his own garden. He lives in the Philadelphia area.


"John Schoffstall's Half-Witch follows 14-year-old Lizbet Lenz and witch-girl Strix on a journey to retrieve a strange book and rescue Lizbet's feckless father from prison. Lizbet inhabits a world where God, Satan and the battle between them is literally real (and being won by Satan), witches are made out of tea bags and sticks, and emotions can be physically pressed out of people's bodies - but beyond the mountains that scrape the sky and ring the world are even stranger things. A marvelous blend of whimsy, terror and deep feeling." -- NPR Best Books of the Year

"John Schoffstall's Half-Witch is one of those books that are simultaneously so startlingly original and deeply familiar I can't quite believe they're debuts. . . . Half-Witch is a marvel of storytelling, balancing humor, terror and grace. Lizbet is so earnestly good, in a way that I think has fallen out of fashion but that I loved reading. She and Strix are a perfect double act, and the shape and texture of the friendship they build is a joy to discover. . . . This is a book of crossing and mixing, of mashing and counter-mashing, with surprise and wonder the result. The ending suggests a sequel, which I hope comes about; the book's last act is full of revelations (as it were) about the especially strange nature of Lizbet's world that I'm keen to see Schoffstall develop and explore. But Half-Witch is also fully satisfying in and of itself." -- Amal El-Mohtar, New York Times Book Review

"Extremely twisted, with a wicked sense of humor that had us snorting and reading passages out loud to anyone who would listen. The friendship between the leads is one of the loveliest relationships we've ever read in a teen book."-- San Francisco Chronicle

"Thoroughly delightful. . . . It embraces the absurdity of its medieval setting, with cheeky devils and superstitious townsfolk and even Jesus popping in for a chat, but the emotional core is anything but silly. These girls may only be half witches, but they're each fully awesome." -- Christina Ladd, Geekly, Inc.

"There is something deeply satisfying about a traditional fantasy with plucky protagonists, nefarious villains, hungry goblins, tricky witches, and a dangerous and difficult quest. In John Schofstall's Half-Witch, everything you expect to find is present, plus a lot of unlikely twists and turns that make this adventure a classic read. . . . As they continue their quest, Lisbet and Strix become the very definition of plucky, and it is hard not cheer them on. They are charming characters who overcome all sorts of fantastical obstacles and forge a powerful friendship."-- Colleen Mondor, Locus

"In a Europe where goblins coexist with the literal (but unhelpful) Holy Trinity, Lizbet is sucked into a magical quest with only the surly witch-girl Strix as a companion. Like all great children's books, Half-Witch is not afraid to put the big stuff on the page: they match wits with the Pope of Storms and corpse-eating earth-witches, and also with human violence and cruelty. An edge-of-your-seat adventure about friendship, trust, and what it means to be changed by someone, Half-Witch is like The Golden Compass as written by Roald Dahl." -- Lauren Banka, Elliott Bay Book Company

"Half-Witch gave me the same atmospheric shivers that The Bear and the Nightingale gave me; it's got that same fairy-tale quality that makes every word seem a little bit like it's shrouded in fog, like you are discovering the book as you are reading it. And it has that same weird blend of folk-lore and Christianity that makes for a wild and excellent contrast of ideas and themes and makes me want to just dig in and discuss this book. It's a slightly creepy, unsettling, atmospheric, beautiful story about friendship and love and the journey it takes to get to those emotions, the trials humans face and the ways they change when faced with growing up and losing their ways. It's about Loss. It's about Finding. It's about Being Made New. And while I don't know if I really liked this book, I absolutely enjoyed it. (Also the cover is gorgeous. That's important to note.)" -- Megan Szmyd, Book Shop of Fort Collins

"A picaresque fantasy debut in the mode of L. Frank Baum, in which witches and magic and God and goblins populate a world that is possibly just next door to our own. Lizbet and the witch girl Strix are delightful company in which to set out on the road." -- Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble

"Even a fantasy world strictly conforming to medieval Christian cosmology cannot withstand an unlikely friendship between human and witch in a picaresque middle-grade debut. After 14 years fleeing across the Holy Roman Empire, Lizbet Lenz has learned to avoid attachments. Yet when her ne'er-do-well father finally lands in jail, she's ready to beg help from anyone: margraves, witches, God (with whom she has regular, literal, if one-sided conversations). Only Strix, a witch girl crafted from leaves and rubbish, is willing to aid Lizbet's desperate venture across the impassable Montagnes du Monde; unfortunately, that assistance may be turning Lizbet herself into a witch. In this wildly imaginative alternative Europe, the delicately evolving relationship between kindhearted, pious, fiercely determined, and achingly lonely Lizbet ("fair-skinned, like most northern folk") and surly, bellicose, but resourceful Strix ("the brown of autumn leaves") provides a sweet counterpoint to a tale otherwise teeming with selfishness, violence, and cruelty, where even heaven fails before the legions of hell. This last plotline, played at first for mordant (and potentially blasphemous) humor, subtly coalesces all the seemingly unrelated episodes until they suddenly transmogrify into a climax that's genuinely thrilling, unexpectedly poignant, and oddly reverent. As Lizbet and Strix together realize their individual identities and agency, even greater joint adventures beckon. Not for everyone, but readers who appreciate powerful female friendships and sui generis whimsy will cherish it." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Fourteen-year-old Lizbet Lenz is used to not getting close to anyone and having to flee in the middle of the night thanks to her father's penchant for getting in over his head. When he gets thrown into jail for causing a rain of mice it's up to Lizbet to rescue him by scaling mountains everyone claims are impassable. As she travels, she gains a companion in Strix, a witch who doesn't believe in friendship but looks out for Lizbet as she gets into trouble. This fantasy adventure has strong spiritual undertones, where God is not a distant unreachable figure, but someone who people can have a conversation with when they take Communion. Lizbet wrestles with her religious views as she is propelled into a world of goblins and demons in order to free her father and stop herself from being sent to an orphanage. The world feels like an antiquated version of our own--albeit with magic--though the exact time period is not clearly defined. Almost every movement made by Lizbet and Strix gets them into some kind of difficulty, which maintains a quick-paced plot and the threat of danger around every corner. Characters are initially childish in their beliefs and stubborn when those beliefs come into question. However, both Lizbet and Strix manage to grow over the course of the narrative." --School Library Journal