Of Wheels and Witches by Stephen Hayes

Of Wheels and Witches

byStephen Hayes

Kobo ebook | December 3, 2014

Pricing and Purchase Info


Prices and offers may vary in store

Available for download

Not available in stores


Jeffery Davidson, a schoolboy from Johannesburg, goes to spend the school holidays at a farm. There he meets Catherine, an orphan from England, Janet, a rich white farmer's daughter, and Sipho, a poor black peasant's grandson. They have fun riding horses and exploring caves, until they encounter an ominous symbol of a wheel, and through a witch they learn of a plot to harm Sipho's father. In trying to find a way to warn him of the danger, they find themselves up against the power of the apartheid state, and they themselves are in danger.
Title:Of Wheels and WitchesFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:December 3, 2014Publisher:Stephen HayesLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1311930965

ISBN - 13:9781311930965


Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Famous Five (Four) in Apartheid South Africa So, a boy from Johannesburg goes to Eersteling in Natal to visit his aunt for the school holidays. There, he meets a girl from England, who is also staying at his aunt's place temporarily. The two of them meet another girl, who lives in the area, and the three of them meet a boy from a nearby township. The four of them go on an adventure together. Sound familiar? No? Have you ever read The Famous Five series, by Enid Blyton? Well, I did, and I was OBSESSED with the series, as a kid! Even though there are only four kids in this story, I still thought that this is The Famous Five for the new generation; The Famous Five for the South African context. At least, that's the impression I get in the beginning of the story. Not so much by the end, but I won't tell you why, lest I spoil it for you. And boy, is this book South African! The kids eat mealies instead of corn, wear tackies instead of sneakers, play glassie glassie instead of Ouija, and cut across velds instead of fields. Witches and wizards use muti instead of magical ingredients. I love it! The story takes place in South Africa in the mid-twentieth century, during the Apartheid regime. Yes, I groaned a little too - I'm a bit tired of re-living that particular time in our history. It's nothing but horrific and depressing. But I needn't have worried, because while it does play a rather large part of the story, it's handled in a very tasteful way, a simple statement of fact about the way things are at the time we join the story. It adds a very nice authenticity to everything, and truth be told, nobody living in that time could've escaped it anyway. It also serves as a vehicle with which to introduce us to magic in black culture, and to learn a thing or two - for example, did you know that witches and witch-doctors are two different things? One of the characters in the book explains that white people often get the two mixed up. Well, I don't know about you, but I always did! The Apartheid background also serves to add flavour to the period, because certain characters can reflect on the fact that when white and black people shake hands, or share a meal together, it's a rarity. In those days, a person's race was important, and the author consequently mentions the race of new characters as they're introduced, almost before any other features. Try and do that today, you'll be labelled a racist in a heartbeat (because that's exactly what you would be), but for the period in which the book is set, it was reality. The overall pacing of the story is pretty good, although at some points I did feel it was maybe going a bit slowly, and in others I felt like I was racing to keep up. The characters are authentic and believable, and in my opinion generally act very appropriately to their ages. It's marketed as a children's story. For the first half of the story, I sort of agreed, even though I felt that it was probably not appropriate for younger kids (say, kids younger than 12 or so), because some of the themes, and specific scenes, are quite dark and potentially a bit scary. There's also some explanation of Orthodox Christian theology, and it kind of flirts a bit with Demonology. Although it's explained in a way that children can understand, it's again a little bit frightening at some points. By the second half of the story, though, my thoughts on age appropriateness were changing rapdily. As the realities of the Apartheid regime come to the fore more and more, it begins to become a major theme of the book, instead of just the backdrop that it had been up until that point. It gets very dark and violent, and I was beginning to think that the story is not appropriate for anybody under the age of sixteen. Sure, it could be pointed out that plenty of kids under sixteen DID live through that reality, they shouldn't have had to, in my opinion! I honestly think this could turn into a really nice series, if the author so wished to write another one involving these characters. Jeffery and Catherine, in particular, are immediately likeable, and it would be really good to read about what happens to them next.
Date published: 2014-12-22