THE WIZARD’S DILEMMA

From the Young Wizards series , Vol. 5

In her fifth book in the Wizardry series, Duane (A Wizard Abroad, not reviewed, etc.) continues to raise the stakes for her young wizards-in-training. Nita, adrift in adolescent angst, quarrels with her fellow wizard Kit and threatens to dissolve their partnership. Hurt and puzzled, Kit embarks on an independent investigation into his dog’s surprising ability to find and shape new universes. Nita, however, has a more daunting challenge: her mother has been hospitalized with an aggressive brain tumor, and Nita is determined to find a magical cure. But wizardry requires discipline and study, and always has a price. When even a crash course in changing the very laws of nature seems insufficient, a desperate Nita must undergo the ultimate temptation by the Lone Power, the source of death and sworn enemy of all wizards. Frequent references to earlier events and sketchy portrayals of secondary characters might confuse some readers. But at heart this is Nita’s story, as she confronts her powerlessness in the face of mortality. Evocative imagery superbly conveys her anguish, determination, rage, and despair. The changing landscapes of various alternate universes provide subtle commentary on each character’s physical, emotional, and spiritual state. Duane has the gift of presenting spirituality without sectarianism or sentimentality; and the final showdown between the Lone Power and Nita, Kit, and Nita’s mother provides a harrowing but triumphant affirmation of the power of the human spirit. Powerful and satisfying on many levels. (Fiction. 11 )

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-15-202551-0

Page Count: 324

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Wrought with admirable skill—the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly...

THE GIVER

From the Giver Quartet series , Vol. 1

In a radical departure from her realistic fiction and comic chronicles of Anastasia, Lowry creates a chilling, tightly controlled future society where all controversy, pain, and choice have been expunged, each childhood year has its privileges and responsibilities, and family members are selected for compatibility.

As Jonas approaches the "Ceremony of Twelve," he wonders what his adult "Assignment" will be. Father, a "Nurturer," cares for "newchildren"; Mother works in the "Department of Justice"; but Jonas's admitted talents suggest no particular calling. In the event, he is named "Receiver," to replace an Elder with a unique function: holding the community's memories—painful, troubling, or prone to lead (like love) to disorder; the Elder ("The Giver") now begins to transfer these memories to Jonas. The process is deeply disturbing; for the first time, Jonas learns about ordinary things like color, the sun, snow, and mountains, as well as love, war, and death: the ceremony known as "release" is revealed to be murder. Horrified, Jonas plots escape to "Elsewhere," a step he believes will return the memories to all the people, but his timing is upset by a decision to release a newchild he has come to love. Ill-equipped, Jonas sets out with the baby on a desperate journey whose enigmatic conclusion resonates with allegory: Jonas may be a Christ figure, but the contrasts here with Christian symbols are also intriguing.

Wrought with admirable skill—the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly provocative novel. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 978-0-395-64566-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1993

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