on wizards, shape shifting, and the smell of magic (review)

img_3948I feel sympathy for every author who wants to write a fantasy about wizards in the post Harry Potter world. Talk about living up to high expectations.  Your wizard fantasy most likely will not end up as a destination at Disneyland. And what about the fear of comparison for your poor developing characters? There will never be another Hermione, no matter how anyone tries.

Against my better judgement I am going to start out a review of The Evil Wizard Smallbone with a comparison or six… because our view of wizards in training has been influenced. I need to clear the magical air on how Nick and Harry differ. Not every wizard lives in a broom cupboard.

Now that we’ve established that, I can tell you why a Potterhead liked this story of an American wizard living in Stephen King’s neck of the woods.  Evil WS has great character development,  it makes us root for the protagonist in dangerous plot twists, and I love a book where local dialect gets a showcase. Ayuh.

Must read moments…
The magical bookshop makes recommendations to the young wizard in training based on his need and ability. Books come out based on requested spells or information (sometimes reluctantly). An invisible but helpful librarian? Maybe I will be reincarnated as a bookshop? Fascinating.

Books themselves do not tolerate sloppy studying, bad words, or cheating. The pages of these magical books go blank for Nick if he doesn’t toe the line. Pretty impressive student management.

As Nick learns about magic he identifies spells by scent. Not a new idea (especially for fans of The Alchemyst), but a nice way to keep the reader predicting what turn the story will take when Nick is on the scent of a spell.

Nick discovers where the previous apprentices are…and decides to rescue them.

If you love magic, hate bad guys and always wondered what would happen if you were turned into a rat, this is a great read for around 3rd grade and up. If you are stuck on the idea of wizards in training in scholarly situations only, this fun fantasy will attempt to knock you off your train..er..broom…er thestral.

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