WitchOfEast is a wonderful storybook app for iPad - perfect for children who enjoy a scary story.
WitchOfEast is a skillfully written story - very classic in nature about a Witch of the East who is intent on getting her hands on fairies, tricking them in a way most terrible for them, but creating a great read for children and adults. I don’t want to give much away in this review as I thoroughly enjoyed the plot twists the first time I read this story, enjoying how original this tale is, yet with nuances of many favorite Grimms and other dark fairy tales that I grew up loving as a child.
Without interactions or animated elements, this is an app to sit back with and enjoy without any distractions. The illustrations included are simply stellar, with a terrific ability to be beautiful, yet have moments of great gruesomeness as well - for a great effect.
The story itself is crafted in rhyme - a style often used in storybooks, yet it is uncommon for a rhyming tale to be this effective, as here the superb narrators are Braveheart actor Jimmy Chisholm and Royal Shakespeare Company actress Siobhan Redmond, who both bring much comprehension to this storytelling.
Although the words are not highlighted when read, the pages are broken into verses which make the following along easier. I also appreciate the interesting-to-look-at yet easy-to-read font choice used within the text - a small detail not to be overlooked within a wordy story such as this, making the readability that much greater for children to follow along.
Music of a very high quality is also included, adding another element which creates a rich experience for readers.
I also appreciate the section of this is app where one can meet the characters found throughout, very thoughtfully written and including a pertaining sound effect as well as illustration. It is impressive the amount of back story and extra information included for each character within this section, details I really enjoyed learning more about. This section is a fun read as it is not narrated, but I would welcome the chance to listen to this information as well, possibly in a future update.
A very nice page of biographies are included where readers can read up on the narrators, author and illustrator, a nice inclusion that I find unfortunately lacking from most other applications.
All of the visual and sound elements, the illustrations, narration and music are perfectly realized. Readers will miss nothing from this app not being interactive - an aspect I actually appreciate as a change from the highly interactive apps we also enjoy.
The only note I have is that the narration heard which asks readers to turn the page, although witty and clever, can be distracting as I oftentimes paused between pages to absorb the illustrations or re-read the text. Because of this, it would be nice to have the choice of turning these prompts off.
I cannot conceive of a typical reader doing a better job of reading this story out loud than the accomplished professionals this app includes, but I think some parents may want to read this app to their children, or older kids might want to read this story to themselves. For this reason, it would be nice to be able to turn off the narration as well.
I really enjoy this ghostly story involving witches and ghouls very much as an adult, and would have great fun with this title as a child as well, but I was a rare breed of kid who enjoyed scary movies and stories from a very young age. For the average child, this tale may be best for grade school or beyond, but I am sure older preschool-age children who enjoy being scared by stories can enjoy this app as well.