And just like that, it was over.
The Witching Hours is a funny old series. The first five books are mostly episodic — which is to say, their stories are self-contained. You can start reading about Anna and Max at book three or book four and you’ll mostly understand what’s going on. But after five huge adventures, it didn’t feel like The Giant Key could be just another episode. It had to tie back to all those previous stories, and address every mystery I’d ever left unsolved. It had to be gigantic.
It could perhaps be said that I took that last part a bit too literally.
The Giant Key is a big, wild, bombastic book. It has several weird, hallucinatory chapters, as well as the most wicked magics that have ever been seen in the series. I’m also pretty sure it has more characters in it than the other five books combined. To research the dastardly enchantments I read Algernon Blackwood’s story The Wendigo, as well as the wonderfully witchy Malleus Maleficarum. Come to think of it, I might have even re-read Roald Dahl’s The Witches while I was writing book six, but I’m sure you won’t notice any scenes inspired by a novel as famous as that.
Looking back, I’m grateful that I got to spend one last book with Anna and Max, in a fairy tale world that existed long before I was born. The folkloric monsters that I used in The Witching Hours feel like toys that have been handed down across generations, and I’m so thrilled that I got the chance to play with the vampire, and the troll, and the genies, and the mermaids, and the dragon, and the giant. I hope I took good care of them.
Anna and Max are fairly archetypal too, but there are little bits of me in both of them, which is why I’m sad to leave them behind. I’ll always kind of know what they did next, and what other monsters they met, but none of those thoughts will ever be published in book form. Maybe if I get nostalgic enough I’ll write a new short story and post it here on an anniversary date, just for myself and whoever else is reading this blog. Who knows!
Luckily for me, those folkloric monsters aren’t the only things I want to play with in the grand toy box of fiction. Now that Anna and Max have reached their happy (?) ending, there are brand new worlds for me to explore, filled with more of the things I loved reading about when I was a kid — and, if I’m completely honest, the things I still love reading about today. I think it’s going to be quite fun.
But you don’t have to worry about that yet. Unless you devoured the whole thing literally today, there is one last book of The Witching Hours to read. Beware the graveyard on page 18. Remember that on page 41, the library wall might not be as secure as you think. And really, the less said about page 92, the better!
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading, and stay safe. Happy witching!