Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Delia Sherman

The Evil Wizard SmallboneMy name is Nick, and my best friend is a bookshop. The evil wizard Smallbone won't teach me any magic, so the bookstore has been teaching me spells. All Smallbone has done is change me into a spider, a rock, and a rat! There's something strange about the people in this town, and they say Smallbone is supposed to protect them from coyotes. He says the defenses he's set up around the boundaries are failing, because the people have broken the promises in their contract. I don't fully understand it all, but I know there's danger lurking. A powerful, magical white wolf is building a gang of biker coyotes, and Smallbone isn't sure he can be defeated. The bookshop has been teaching me about transformations and other spells, but I don't know if it will be enough to help.

This book is a finalist for the 2016 Cybils Award in Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction. It's surprising to find an evil character like Smallbone who's also endearing. He might change characters into different animals or objects, but he will then come to their defense. He is strict about his expectations and punishes Nick when he doesn't meet them. Nick seems to be secretly practicing magic, but then Smallbone seems to know exactly what's going on. This game of cat and mouse is fun to follow. The threat of the white wolf grows throughout the plot and ends with the inevitable showdown with Smallbone. However, it's clear that Nick's growing power will become very important in the end. I recommend this book to lovers of magic, with a twist of fun and humor.

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