by Sage Blackwood
First sentence: “It wasn’t that Jinx didn’t like people.”
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Review copy snagged from the ARC shelves at my place of employment.
Content: There are some tense moments that might scare a more sensitive child. But, even though there are deaths, it’s all very abstract and kind of distanced from the reader. It’s in the middle grade (grades 3-5) in the bookstore.
Others in the series: Jinx
Jinx’s life has gotten more complicated. Not that he expected any different, really. He’s been told he’s the Listener, but no one has bothered to explain what that means. The trees he talks to are becoming increasingly more panicked because someone — well, the neighboring kingdom — is chopping them down. And Simon — the wizard Jinx is apprenticed to — is trying to stop the Bonemaster (Evil Villain) without much success or help from the other clearings in the Urwald. It’s all a big mess, really.
Jinx has two missions in this book: get Reven out of the Urwald and to that neighboring kingdom, where he is (presumably) the long-lost rightful heir. And then get to Samara to learn how to use Knowledge is Power (or KnIP). Neither is what he wants to do. (He just wants to make sure Simon doesn’t kill himself when he goes up against the Bonemaster, really.) But, do them he must, and so he does. Sort of.
This is very much a middle book in a series. It takes the elements of magic and setting that Blackwood laid out in the first book, and builds on them, but nothing really is resolved. Jinx does grow in his magic usage, though not really in his understanding, and he makes a couple more friends. But nothing is really clearer than at the end of the first book. Additionally, new elements are introduced: an impending invasion from Reven and his newfound power, the existence of an underground society for the use and freedom of KnIP in Samara (of which at least two of the characters are members), and Jinx’s role as the Listener is expanded (at least a little bit). So, the ending really is quite unsatisfying, but that’s just because it’s not, well, done yet.
It works well as a middle book, I think. But I’m reserving final judgement for the whole series until the third book comes out.