Sunday, September 20, 2020

The Half-Assed Wizard

The Half-Assed Wizard
by Gary Jonas
Recommended Ages: 14+

Brett Masters isn't just a slacker and a disappointment to his father. He's about the most epic slacker-stroke-disappointment since Abraham said to Lot, "I give you half of my fortune and you don't even think to bring back a little salt?" (I'll be here all week.) The all-important third son of a wizard who controls the oldest and most powerful magical bloodline west of the Mississippi, Brett slacked off in his magic lessons, skipped the final exam, and now slums around a house his parents own in Galveston, Texas, where he plays in a band when he isn't sleeping into the afternoon, drinking too much and trying to get laid. Even in his music, he takes the easy route, depending on a magic guitar pick to bring the tunes in his head out of the strings. He considers napping to be his superpower.

All that starts to change – well, no, it doesn't – when Brett intercepts a package from his Uncle Paul, addressed to his dad, and inadvertently tunes a tarot deck of eldritch power to himself. Now a bunch of magical bad guys who want the deck have to kill him in order to get the deck back. (I hate to mention it, but Uncle Paul kind of stole the cards.) With his son-of-a-witch dad (ha ha) testing him from one side and his dad's enemies closing in from the other, Brett's margin of survival narrows down to a vanishingly thin thread of loyalty from his cousin Sabrina (not a witch, a wizard), a sexy vampire bandmate named Michael (luckily, he can't drink wizard blood) and the fact that he, Brett, actually possesses enormous though undisciplined power.

This is a relatively short novel, fastpaced and direct, with a magically hilarious take on millennial slacker culture and a somewhat distinctive concept of how magic works. Brett's bad attitude about everything in general, and his father in particular, makes him sometimes hard to sympathize with, but since he's the narrator you kind of have to go along with it. Nevertheless, there are hints of a private pain that may explain, to a degree, how he got to be that way, and more than a hint that his adventures as a half-assed wizard are just beginning. The characters surrounding him make entertaining company, and the seawall neighborhood of Galveston reveals unexpected possibilities as a setting for weird and dangerous adventures. All in all, I thought it was the start of a series I'd be willing to continue with.

This is the first of four "Half-Assed Wizard" books, followed by The Big-Ass Witch, The Dumbass Demon and The Lame-Assed Doppelganger, about which I would like to observe (1) that I never imagined I would go to so much trouble verifying the difference between "ass" and "assed," and (2) although I scored this book for free on Kindle, it succeeded in scoring money from me to get the sequel. Gary Jonas is also the author of about 12 "Jonathan Shade" novels (Modern Sorcery etc.), six "Hitman" books (So You Wanna Be a Hitman etc.), five "Kelly Chan" books (Vampire Midnight, etc.), and about five other novels.

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