I love middle grade fantasy books. In fact, that’s what I’m hoping to publish by the end of May, 2018. It makes sense, then, that I would enjoy this ALA Quick Picks Top Ten book that focuses on magic and growing into one’s self.
Summary: Callum is a young boy who is known for making trouble and giving smart-alec remarks to teachers. He lives with his dad and suffers from the loss of his mother. There is a Magisterium and they are holding trials to see who will be accepted and trained as a mage. Callum’s father does not want Cal to be trained in magic and encourages him to fail the tests. Despite his best efforts, though, Cal is chosen and leaves his father to go train. Together, he trains with Aaron and Tamara. At first their training is boring, as all they do is sort sand. He deals with a leg that holds him back and gives others a reason to taunt him. Despite this, he learns magic and begins to make friends just when you start to think he won’t.
My Response: Spoilers. It has been compared to Harry Potter, but the world is vastly different. I really enjoyed the lizard, Warren. Bringing animals and such alive are really fantastical and a joy. Towards the middle of the book, his dad sends a letter to the school asking that they bind Cal’s magic, as seen here, “You must bind Callum’s magic before the end of the year” (Black, Clare, pg. 139). That would be very intriguing and hard to understand. I like how the book starts out with Cal being denied full access to his magic, as most teens are denied most privileges of adulthood. The revoking of privileges, or rights, as also reflected by Cal’s dad trying to bind his magic. Obviously this lends itself to mystery, but it also reflects what youth face today and resonates with readers. The twist at the end of the book reminded me of Lord Voldemort and lived off of Professor Quirrell as well as being the last Horcrux in Harry Potter. The fact that Cal has a part of The Enemy in him is super neat, but not too original. It was neat, too, how he had a messed up leg in that there are flaws in every person, and this too, resonates with readers.
Audience: Middle and high school libraries. Ages 10 and up.
Links: Here is a link to writing advice from Cassandra Clare.
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