Monday, July 1, 2019
Obert Skye - Wizard for Hire
Since Harry Potter there have been many books inspired by the tale of a young boy becoming something special in a magical setting. Some could be considered 'inspired' by, others are a complete 'rip-off'.
Fortunately, Skye's world and characters might be inspired by (and actually even refer to) the Potterverse, but this is done in a way that actually supports the story, instead of claiming some understanding of pop culture.
For what is clearly a kid's book the theme is surprisingly dark: 7 year old Ozzie sees his parents taken away from him, and he stays behind, all alone in a house in the woods. Seven more years he's living all alone, reading the books his parents left behind, and living from stacks of canned food.
(Let's ignore the fact that this is not very likely, it's a concept and fine for a kids' book.)
When Ozzie finally ventures out into the world he is accompanied by a mechanical raven (Clark) and a wizard (Rin). The latter might, or might not, be a wizard.
The second half of the book is an action adventure involving car flips, strange encounters, and an evil uncle. Ozzie finally finds out his parents are dead (a bit darker moment in the rest of the lighter story).
Some of the plot elements were a bit predictable, some not very believable, and some rather unwise (should one even suggest a fourteen year old to drive a car by himself?) but it all came together in the end.
Do wizards exist?
I found the beginning a bit slow, and considered putting it down for a few times. What kept me going was the one question: is Rin a wizard, or is he not? You know what? The book never tells, and does so in a smart way.
Too many books refer to Rowling's Harry Potter series. Yes, that is a cultural phenomenon, but these endless references can be tiresome. Christopher Nuttal kept doing it in his Schooled in Magic series, and Aaron Rachel had a few misplaced references as well. It doesn't necessarily make a story better by referring to another story.
Still, Skye made a few nice puns. (Floating candles sound great until you consider the dropping wax...)
If you have kids check this out and read it together, or play it in your car when taking them with you. Even without kids it is a good read / listen which deserves a sequel.
There actually is a sequel listed on Amazon! I haven't read that one yet though... Perhaps if it goes down a bit price wise I might give it a shot.
Dapper / TellTales! 98