Thursday, February 7, 2008

Anne Downer

Hatching Magic
by Anne Downer
Recommended Age: 12+

The Middle Ages collide with the present day in this exciting, funny, touching story by the author of The Spellkey and The Glass Salamander.

Wycca is a wyvern – a roughly cat-like breed of dragon with a talent for hunting down magical vermin (such as rogue spells, demons, and forbidden grimoires). Her master is the king’s sorcerer, Gideon. He knows very well that if Wycca falls into the hands of his rival (and stepbrother) named Kobold, she can be turned against him with a terrible vengeance. So, Gideon is rightly concerned when Wycca disappears down a bolt-hole into 21st-century Boston, in search of a safe, private place to lay her egg.

Gideon follows Wycca through the bolt-hole, but then so do Kobold and his demon familiar, Febrys. Emerging into a world where wizardry is not extinct – but wyverns are – Gideon soon has the help of a fussy old bachelor who happens to be the Wizard of Harvard Square, Iain Merlin O’Shea. They embark on a race against time – or rather, against Kobold – to magically fetch Wycca and her hatchling from wherever they may be.

But both parties are beset by problems. Problems like a fetching spell that accidentally fetches a real, live, Chinese dragon, in blatant defiance of the “no pets” policy in Merlin’s apartment building. Problems like a demon who is fascinated by her recent discovery of the concept of love. And above all, the unknown factor in all their equations – a nearly-twelve-year-old girl named Dodo whose obsession with the world of fantasy draws her unwittingly into a wyvern’s nest, a wizard duel, and a desperate race to save a newborn wyvern’s life.

It all comes together in an adventure laced with magic, chocolate, family drama, wicked humor, and a tiny bit of romance. I read it during a holiday visit with my parents, and they kept giving me funny looks as I laughed aloud and squirmed with pleasure. Occult content advisory aside, this story delivers a solid battle between good and evil, a gentle lesson in redemption and forgiveness, and a totally absorbing fantasy of magical men and beasts, plus a dangling mystery that bodes of further adventures to come.

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