Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Delia Sherman

Nate has tried to run away from his abusive uncle and cousin before, but this time he's going to make it. He has a plan and even though his supplies got left behind he has high hopes. Until he gets lost in the woods, in the snow, and the coyotes start howling...

When he arrives at the doorstep of Evil Wizard Books and meets the proprietor, the brusque Zachariah Smallbone, he thinks it's a place to stay for one night before he moves on. Then he discovers he can't move on. He's trapped in the creepy shop as Smallbone's apprentice. Magic is real - and Smallbone is not going to share any of it with him. Nobody in the mysterious Smallbone Cove will help him and Fidelou and his coyotes are closing in...

This slow-paced fantasy builds slowly to a not-too-surprising conclusion that still has some fun twists in it. Readers will relish Nate's slow acceptance of his new life and discovery of his own inner strengths, not only magical but of character. The setting is richly descriptive, bringing to life the solitary life of the cove and its inhabitants and the magic that always dwells just around the corner.

Verdict: A powerful story about magic and inner strength. Readers looking for fast-paced action won't get into this, but a more mature and reflective audience will revel in Sherman's skill with words and the slow revelation of character that the story holds.

ISBN: 9780763688059; Published 2016 by Candlewick; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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