The Education of a Witch

By: Ellen Klages

Star Rating:



Spoiler Disclaimer


Lizzy Breyer's parents take her to see the movie, Sleeping Beauty. Unlike most little girls her age who are enthralled by Sleeping Beauty and her prince, Lizzy is entranced by the wicked witch Maleficent. Her mother takes her to the toy store, where she chooses a Maleficent puppet to buy, and she imagines that it talks to her. When Lizzy's baby sister is born, everything changes for Lizzy. She is no longer the center of attention, which makes her feel angry. As her obsession with Maleficent grows, Lizzy begins acting out at school and soon discovers an ability within herself to cause mischief and mayhem just like the witch she idolizes.


The Education of a Witch is a short story about a little girl named Lizzy, who after seeing Sleeping Beauty, becomes rather obsessed with Maleficent and eventually discovers she has the ability to cause mischief and mayhem herself. Although Lizzy's exact age isn't given, she attends nursery school, so I assume she's between about three and five years old. She's obviously an intelligent and curious child. When her baby sister is born, she struggles with all the changes that occur and the fact that she's no longer receiving as much attention as the baby. This makes Lizzy angry, so that she starts acting out.

The Education of a Witch is the second story in Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron, the anthology in which it's found, that is written in third person, present-tense, a style I don't ever recall having read until picking up this book. Unlike the other story written in this style, I found this one to be exceptionally engaging. I could really feel Lizzy's frustrations and building resentment, as well as her adoration of the character of Maleficent. Like with Lizzy's age, the exact time frame of the story isn't given, but based on the facts that Sleeping Beauty was playing at the drive-in movies and Eisenhower was president, I could extrapolate that it is probably set around 1959-1960. Even though this was more than a decade before I was born, there are many things in the story that felt familiar to me, and I think that's part of what drew me in as well. It kind of made me feel like I was reliving my own childhood, which was a lot of fun. The only reason I didn't give it a higher rating is that the story ends rather abruptly, and while it's easy to see where it's probably going and draw your own conclusions, I prefer things to be wrapped up a bit neater. Otherwise, I really enjoyed this little story. It was my first read by Ellen Klages, but it has certainly left me open to trying more of her work in the future.


Ellen Klages