#959 – The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Delia Sherman

evil-wizard-smallbone The Evil Wizard Smallbone
Written by Delia Sherman
Candlewick Press 9/13/2016
978-0-7636-8805-9
408 pages   Ages 8—12

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“Nick could read perfectly well, and this is what he’s read on the card the old man had shown him:

“Evil Wizard Books
Zachariah Smallbone, Prop.
Used Books, Maps, Local History,
Speculative Fiction, Arcana
Open by Chance and by Appointment,
Fridays—Sundays from May to September

“All Nick wants is a place to shelter from the blizzard that hits after he runs away from his uncle’s. What he gets is someplace warm to live, plenty of hot food, and the company of two dogs, two cats, four goats, one pig, a flock of chickens, and a grumpy old man who won’t let him leave.

“Evil Wizard Books may be cozy and Smallbone Cove idyllic, but the wolf is at the door—literally. The Evil Wizard Fidelou and his pack of biker coyotes are howling at the village border, and its magical Sentries are slowly failing. For a three-hundred-year-old self-proclaimed evil wizard, Zachariah Smallbone seems strangely at a loss. It’s a good thing Nick was lying about not being able to read. Smallbone may not be willing to teach him magic, but the bookstore is. And Nick is more than willing to learn. Even if the bookstore is awfully bossy.” [inside jacket]
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Review
Nick escapes his abusive home life with Uncle Gabe, who, ever since Nick’s mom died, has become increasingly abusive, as has his son, Jerry. Now cold, hungry, and tired Nick knocks on the only door around: “Evil Wizard Books.” In exchange for helping Smallbone around his home and barn, Nick, now called Foxkin, gets his room and board. Oh, and one more thing . . . Nick Foxkin cannot leave. If he tries, or does something else Wizard Smallbone finds annoying, Foxkin could lose his human life and become an animal or object of Wizard Smallbone’s choice, including a stone. It seems Nick exchanged one abusive home for another.

The Evil Wizard Smallbone kept me glued to the pages. I would love to read even more, if this were to continue. Sherman builds the story at an even, easy pace, and never falls into boredom. l love Smallbone Cove, the world Smallbone built. In exchange for protection, and a few other interesting stipulations, the villagers agree to:

“. . . give him the best of our catch and our harvest.”

Wizard Smallbone gets the best of what the villagers grow and catch—readers get the best of Sherman. More importantly, the villagers receive protection from the coyotes belonging to Wizard Fidelou, an equally evil wizard out to destroy Smallbone and all he owns. Magic Sentries stand at the village boundaries to keep Fidelou and his pack out, but something is wrong. The Sentries are fading and coyotes, in their human form, are getting through to harass and burden the village residents.

Smallbone thinks his charms are protecting the village, so his thoughts are far from a confrontation to the death. He has a new apprentice to train and a village to run. Smallbone also believes his Foxkin cannot read. The outer area of the Bookstore contains enough books to keep a young twelve-year-old reading for over a year—if Nick could read. Foxkin asks the bookstore for help. He wants to become a wizard. In secrecy, the bookstore obliges, offering books it wants Foxkin to read, not necessarily what Foxkin wants.

The Evil Wizard Smallbone will entertain kids and make them think. I wonder who this Wizard Smallbone really is and how has he kept his village in line for so many—hundreds—of years. The answers will amaze you, as they did me. The characters are well developed and worth rooting for at every turn, as is Nick, I mean Foxkin. Nick’s uncle is still looking for the runaway and he will become part of the story in a very satisfying way. I love the ending. It wraps up the story nicely without any loose strings. If this were a series, it would receive my new highest rating, started just for Wizard Smallbone. The cover is fantastic!

THE EVIL WIZARD SMALLBONE. Text copyright © 2016 by Delia Sherman. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

AmazonIndie BooksApple BooksCandlewick Press

Find The Evil Wizard Smallbones on Goodreads HERE.

Delia Sherman:  http://www.deliasherman.com/
Follow on Twitter          @deliasherman

Candlewick Press:  http://www.candlewick.com/
Follow on Twitter          @Candlewick

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Copyright © 2016 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

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The Evil Wizard Smallbone
Written by Delia Sherman
Candlewick Press 9/13/2016
9780763688059

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7 thoughts on “#959 – The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Delia Sherman

  1. Pingback: #983 – Cloud and Wallfish by Anne Nesbet | Kid Lit Reviews

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