Welcome to the September 28th review stop on the blog tour for The Reluctant Wizard by A. A. Warne, organized by Silver Dagger Book Tours. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for more features, guest posts, and a giveaway! (More on that at the end of this post.)
I received a free review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through this tour. My thoughts and opinions on this book are entirely my own and have not been swayed by the fact that my copy was free or that I am writing for a tour. Thank you to the author for granting me access to this book!
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The Reluctant Wizard
by A.A. Warne
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Page Count: 458
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
By day, wizards rule the world. At night, warlocks seek to destroy it. Now, one boy will challenge them both.
Eli never wanted to be a rebel. All he wants is an end to the famine and war threatening his community. To save his mother and baby brother from marauding warlocks, Eli is forced to make a heartbreaking decision. He must travel to Terra Magicae, the mysterious land of the wizards, to study magic. In exchange, the wizards will protect his family, but this protection comes at a price: once Eli enters the Grand Wizardry Academy, he may never come home.
Full of lush landscapes and magical marvels, Terra Magicae is more wondrous than Eli ever imagined… and more dangerous. At first, Eli’s struggles to fit in at the Academy seem ordinary. But the more he questions the wizards, the more he suspects a sinister purpose behind their bizarre rules and tests. For a dark secret lies at the heart of this mystical land, one so terrible it threatens not only the students at the Academy but the lives of everyone Eli loves.
To save them all, Eli must step into the midst of the battle between the wizards and warlocks and defy both sides. He must become the rebel he was always meant to be.
My Rating: 5 Stars!
The Reluctant Wizard is a whirlwind academic fantasy novel of high middle grade to young adult reading level. Our protagonist is Eli, the eldest son of one of the few former students of Terra Magicae to ever leave, and he has been instructed all his life to never attend. Go to the testings to avoid suspicion, but fail them on purpose. Never enter the academy. But now Eli’s father is dead and his family and community at large are destitute. The academy pays compensation to families out here for students they send to learn wizardry. Eli decides to sacrifice his freedom in hopes that he can provide for his family in this way. Unfortunately for Eli, his late father and his uncle have been far less than truthful about their own time in Terra Magicae and the perils that would await him.
This is a brilliantly written “chosen one” adventure that is so well paced. Worldbuilding is expertly integrated into the story so that the reader is never confronted with passages of history that break from the narrative, but the reader is also never any more lost than the POV character himself.
I wasn’t sure if I like Eli in the beginning, as I expected him to be a self-absorbed brat. I think this early impression was partly due to the official synopsis combined with the cover art depicting a rather bored-looking boy in robes perched on a throne. This is absolutely not the case at all! Eli is empathic and utterly selfless, exceedingly bright, and adorably naive.
Of the supporting cast, I love Khah and Uncle Izaec in particular, but there are so many well rounded and likeable characters. Khah had to grow on me, as she’s a little abrupt and aloof in the beginning, but as we get to know her it makes perfect sense. Uncle Izaec reminds me of the version of Long John Silver presented in Disney’s Treasure Planet. The only character I remained on the fence about the entire time was Sax, Eli’s “lab partner” (for lack of a better term without spoilers) who’s two years younger than the already young Eli but behaves and treats Eli as if he were Eli’s elder. Something about the way Eli always deferred to Sax as if to an elder, not just a more experienced student, occasionally interrupted my suspension of disbelief.
This book is written in short chapters, which is handy if this is being read for school or as part of a bedtime routine as it breaks this lengthy 458-page book into bite-sized chunks.
Parents and educators should be aware that this book deals with darker themes than most similar novels in terms of category and genre. While nothing gets particularly graphic, this book does present elements of death, war, and poverty. (Being as vague as possible to avoid spoilers:) There’s also a culling element to the plot that is presented as gently as similar culling elements in Lowry’s The Giver. That is to say that the full emotional impact of the issue will probably go over the heads of readers who are too young or emotionally inexperienced to appreciate the gravity of this particular plot point, rather than confusing or traumatizing them, but all the information is there for the readers who are prepared for the full picture.
Overall this was an excellent read that I absolutely flew through, and I hope to read more from these characters and in this world.
A. A. Warne writes elaborate, strange, dark and twisted stories. In other words, speculative fiction.
Located at the bottom of the Blue Mountains in Sydney, Australia; Amanda was born an artist and grew up a painter before deciding to study pottery.
But it wasn’t until she found the art of the written word that her universe expanded.
A graduate of Western Sydney University in arts, Amanda now spends her time wrestling three kids and writing full time.
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