Monthly Archives: January 2015
So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane
This book is one that I have enjoyed since I was 13 or so, when I first read it. I recently read it again and I have to say, the experience really held up for me.The basic premise is this: entropy is slowly eating the universe alive, and that’s all thanks to a single dark power at the beginning of everything. To combat this, the powers that support life allowed wizards to come into existence. Wizards don’t begin life with magical powers, they swear an oath to use their powers responsibly and in service of life and only then can access the parts of the world that normal people can’t. This decision whether or not to be a wizard is only offered to certain people, and at a young age. Our two protagonists Nita and Kit choose to take the wizard’s oath and become wizards, and the adventures roll on from there.
I think the strongest aspect of this book is the way it’s been conceived and written overall. None of the language is condescending, and complicated ideas are presented without any hint that you’ll understand too little of it to enjoy it. The science/wizardry (the two are very intertwined in this book!) is laid out in a straightforward manner but vague enough not to be overwhelming with technical details. Precocious young readers will really enjoy having a story that they can dream into and feel challenges them without being aimed at older readers.
I would not recommend this book for struggling readers. Reading comes simply to the main characters and it’s something they enjoy doing, and I would worry that all the mentions of the copious amounts of reading required in this world’s wizardry would turn them off of the book. I would however especially recommend this book to young readers looking for a new series that they can really become immersed in. The action is exciting and the world-building fascinating, and the story really escalates in following novels.
This book is also especially powerful for the middle grade readers, I think, because of how it depicts the main characters. They are facing challenges and making huge decisions that impact billions of lives, and are never represented as being too young or stupid to do so. The weight of the world is laid on their shoulders, and they bear up under it. The amount of help they get from adults is just enough to enable them to accomplish things on their own, which is something I think a lot of teens and even pre-teens are striving to do. It is also encouraging as the isolated and bullied main character grows into a confident and important person in her own right.
The one aspect that may lose young readers is the setting of the book. It does perhaps feel a bit dated. For me that was always a part of the charm of the book, as I’ve always loved the more formal writing of books from the 60’s – 80’s, but not every reader will be receptive to that. If your reader has ever tried and enjoyed Susan Cooper, Lloyd Alexander, or Madeleine L’Engle, this book is a good bet.
Anyone that feels bookish or geeky and doesn’t mind science mixed in with their magic should definitely read this book. Strong themes like death/loss, isolation and friendship, responsibility and consequence are all handled in this book with a deft touch, and give gravitas without sounding preachy. Hand this book to a young reader in your life, or pick it up yourself – it is definitely one of the good ones that can stick with you through your whole lifetime!
This is book one of the Young Wizards series. You can find its availability in our catalog here.
Recommended by: Ashley
Darkhouse by Karina Halle
There’s always been something a bit off about Perry Palomino. Though she’s been dealing with a quarter-life crisis and post-college syndrome like any other twenty-something, she’s still not what you would call “ordinary.” For one thing, there’s her past which she likes to pretend never happened, and then there’s the fact that she sees ghosts. Luckily for her, that all comes in handy when she stumbles across Dex Foray, an eccentric producer for an upcoming webcast on ghost hunters. Even though the show’s budget is non-existent and Dex himself is a maddening enigma, Perry is instantly drawn into a world that both threatens her life and seduces her with a sense of importance. Her uncle’s haunted lighthouse provides the perfect catalyst and backdrop for a mystery that unravels the threads of Perry’s fragile sanity and causes her to fall for a man, who, like the most dangerous of ghosts, may not be all that he seems.
I was first introduced to this book by a friend of mine who told me I just had to read it because I was going to love the story and Dex. I was a little skeptical because I wasn’t a huge fan of paranormal fiction (I had only read Twilight, yay for sparkly vampires!) but I gave it a chance because I’m always on the lookout for a new book boyfriend. Oh goodness did I become a fan!
This book sucked me in fast! The chemistry between Perry and Dex was enticing and the way they fought was amusing at times. The story was very well written and at times it was quite chilling. I wasn’t able to read this at dark! Every shadow on the wall was making me jump.
Darkhouse opened up a whole new world of books for me and I haven’t been able to get enough of paranormal stories. I would suggest this book only to adults due to the use of harsh language and gory content.
Darkhouse is book one in the Experiment in Terror series. You can find its availability in our catalog here.
By Leslie at Shady