Her sister was a witch

I recall reading Witch’s Sister on a hot summer day and being chilled to the bone. It wasn’t our air conditioning – it was Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s tales. The stories were the perfect combination to feed the imagination – two young girls, a strange old lady, a creepy house on a hill, a menacing cat, stalking crows and an ancient cemetery.

Set in the 70s, these books remind me of my own childhood.

Lynn and Mouse, the heroines, had the freedom to roam their small town as my friends and I once did. Lynn has a brother and sister; Mouse’s parents are divorced and she lives with her dad, her mom has moved away. There’s also a creek, the mentioned graveyard and family dinners.

drawing of graveyard.

Lynn and Mouse hang out in an old graveyard.

I still find these books spooky as an adult. In the first book, you are left to wonder if old Mrs. Tuggle is really witch who is trying to bring Lynn’s teenage sister Judith into her coven – are these coincidences or Lynn and Mouse’s active imaginations?

girls and witch

Lynn and Mouse and the scary Mrs. Tuggle.

A group of crows start to follow Mouse in Witch Water and you’re pretty sure the girls are spot on. By the third and very creepy book, The Witch Herself, you have no doubt. It all came back to me when I reread the books, as well as Gail Owens’ perfect illustrations. I still love Lynn and Mouse and it takes me right back to my own childhood friendships.

In my hometown, there was a creepy and ancient graveyard; rumor had it that it was haunted by Sarah Farris.

graveyard and school

This is where the scary incident in the graveyard happened. My elementary school is behind it.

I don’t know why her name was picked from the old markers but kids talked about it. The graveyard was adjacent to our elementary school playground and adding to the mystery and fear was the time a man was sitting there during recess. We watched in awe and fear as the police came and took him away. In my memory he was dressed in robes like Obi-One Kanobi and for weeks I refused to walk past the graveyard, much to my parents’ irritation since it was near our house.

My brother lives in our old neighborhood and we walked over on Easter Sunday to take a look at the graveyard. In broad daylight, this ancient and very small space no longer unnerved me. We talked about the fear of Sarah Farris and her so called hauntings from the grave. Looking around, we only found the grave of Sarah Jewett – the Farris House was one of the original houses in our village, so somewhere the names must have been mixed-up in our elementary school lore.

Gravestone

The only Sarah we found in the graveyard was Sarah Knapp Jewett.

I recently asked my friend Jeanne if she remembered the books. Her eyes got wide.

YES! You loved them!

Still do. My only regret is I reread them so quickly.

And I still find crows suspicious.

*After writing this post, I realize there are two more books in this series I didn’t know about – I’ll be checking them out!

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