Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Jinx's Magic

Jinx's Magic
by Sage Blackwood
Recommended Ages: 11+

Jinx is a 13-year-old wizard's apprentice whose magic defies pigeon-holing. He has a little bit of wizardly power, but it seems incomplete and slow to develop, to the great exasperation of his master, Simon Magus. He also seems to be something called a Listener, that hasn't existed for over 100 years, able to hear what the trees of the Urwald have to say and to feel what they feel – although they're a bit frustrated with him, too. He doesn't listen very well, does he? And there are odds and ends of other kinds of power in him, too: like being able to sense the color and shape of other people's thoughts (which he tries to keep to himself), and drawing power from the lifeforce of the forest, and learning languages lickety-split. And that's even before he travels to another dimension and studies magic at a school of magic where magic is forbidden, on pain of death – a whole different kind of magic, known as KnIP (for "Knowledge Is Power") – though he's mostly there to search for a book called the Eldritch Tome that's written in a stupidly incomprehensible language and that represents yet another form of magic. And finally, he seems to be able to talk to werewolves and trolls, which everyone knows can't talk.

Despite all these angles on magic, Jinx still struggles to pull enough power together to save Simon from the evil Bonemaster, a wizard specializing in death magic, and to rescue Simon's fiancee Sophie from prison in the parallel-dimension, magic-averse city of Samara. He has to navigate a community of scholars who mean to keep all the power for themselves, and who always seem to mean the opposite of what they say; rely on allies whose allegiance is iffy; and do the impossible based on little more than blind belief – or rather, knowing things that ain't so. Back on the Urwald side of the transdimensional doorway, he faces an enemy whose power he doesn't dare touch, a frenemy who plans to bring war and destruction to the Urwald, a friend who has crossed over to the dark side (somewhat), and countrymen who don't even know they're a country and if they don't realize it soon, it may be too late.

This is a fascinating, complex, world-building story featuring a hero who is clever yet confused, powerful yet frail. His adventures are mixed up with those of a girl cursed to answer any question truthfully, a boy-king cursed so that he can't say who he is, a young scholar whose forthrightness is the ruin of his career, and a resistance cell that refuses to rescue its own. Then there are witches, wizards, werewolves, elves, and still more strange and wondrous beings, some of whom do terrible things. It's a book that thrives on wit, sarcasm and wry humor, blended with suspense and thrills in a tight weave of original fantasy concepts. It gives you more than you expect and leaves you wanting even more.

This is the second book in the "Wizard's Apprentice" trilogy, between Jinx and Jinx's Fire. Sage Blackwood is also the author of Miss Ellicott's School for the Magically Minded.

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