Summary of The Witches by Roald Dahl

 The Witches by Roald Dahl - Summary

The Witches is a children's novel written by Roald Dahl. It tells the story of a young boy who encounters a secret society of witches with a nefarious plan to turn all children into mice. The story is filled with whimsical and darkly humorous elements that are characteristic of Dahl's writing.

The story begins with a brief introduction of a witch. According to the author, a witch is always a woman. They dress in ordinary clothes, live in ordinary houses, and do ordinary jobs. A real witch hates children and makes them disappear.

In the novel, the protagonist talks about the two separate encounters he had with witches in his childhood and how he manages to stay alive because of her wonderful grandmother.

Soon after his seventh birthday, the young boy loses both of his parents in a tragic car accident and goes to live with his Norwegian grandmother. She is well-versed on the subject of witches and a wonderful storyteller. She teaches the boy how to spot a witch, as well as the sinister truth that they despise children and seek to eliminate them. 

The grandmother also told the kid about the five children; Ranghild Hansen, Solveg, Birgit Svenson, Harald, and Leif, who disappeared from the face of the earth. Witches in Dahl's world are not the typical depiction – they look like regular women but wear gloves all the time, have bald heads, queer noses, peculiar eyes, hidden curvy claws, and a distinctive aversion to children. 

One day, a man in a black suit arrived at the house with the will of the protagonist’s father. After the man left, grandmother told the boy that his parents wished for him to stay with his grandmother but only in their house in England. Before the two left for England, Grandmother told the boy about English witches and how they turn children into slugs, fleas, and pheasants. The grandmother also tells him that the witches in America turn children into hot dogs. She also tells the boy that there is a secret society of witches in every country, and once a year, they all get together for their annual meeting to receive a lecture from The Grand High Witch of all the world.

In England, the boy was back in his old family house in Kent and started going to school. Once again, life seemed to have come back to normal. On weekends, the boy, along with his best friend Timmy began to build a tree house in the former’s garden. One day, when Timmy was down with flu, the protagonist was working alone building a roof on his tree house when he suddenly found a woman staring at him. The boy was shocked to see that the woman was wearing a small black hat and gloves. It was his first encounter with a witch, but he managed to escape her. 

During the summer holidays, the boy and his grandmother went to the seaside town of Bournemouth and booked rooms in a place called Hotel Magnificent. At the hotel, the boy was training his two mice (William and Mary) when he accidentally stumbled upon a gathering of two hundred witches led by the Grand High Witch. He listens in horror as they discuss their plan to turn all children into mice using a magical potion called Formula 86 Delayed Action Mouse Maker. As an experiment, the Grand High Witch also turns a boy known as Bruno Jenkins into mice. Unfortunately, the boy is discovered by his smell and turned into a mouse himself by the Grand High Witch. However, he retains his human intelligence and voice. He soon found Bruno Jenkins and decided to visit his grandmother for help. He told her grandmother everything that went down at the meeting. With the help of his grandmother, the boy hatches a plan to hinder the witches' scheme.

The boy schemes to use the witches against them. He steals one of the bottles of Formula 86 Delayed Action Mouse Maker from the Grand High Witch's room and puts them in the soup made for the witches. At the dinner table, as the witches transformed into mice, everyone at the hotel saw them, and the day was saved.

After that, the grandmother took the boy and headed back to Norway. The boy is quite happy being a mouse for the rest of his life as he believes he could do a lot more. There, she told the boy that there was a castle in Norway, which is the headquarters of the Grand High Witch. It makes the little boy very excited as he plans to get rid of every single witch. The story ends with the boy and his grandmother deciding to make the Formula 86 Delayed Action Mouse Maker potion by themselves to turn every single witch in the world into mice. 

The Witches is a tale of bravery, resourcefulness, and the strength of familial bonds. It combines Dahl's signature blend of dark humor, whimsy, and suspense, making it a captivating read for both children and adults. The story explores themes of courage, resilience, and the power of standing up against injustice, all wrapped up in Dahl's imaginative storytelling style.