AP­PREN­TICE NEEDED

Foreword Reviews - - Foresight Fantasy -

Obert Skye, Shadow Moun­tain Pub­lish­ing (APRIL) Hard­cover $17.99 (416pp), 978-1-62972-529-1 JU­VE­NILE FIC­TION

There are two kinds of peo­ple in the moody, mag­i­cal world of Ap­pren­tice Needed: those who are op­posed to imag­i­na­tion, and those who un­der­stand what a pow­er­ful force it can be. The sec­ond novel in the Wiz­ard for Hire se­ries re­vis­its the ad­ven­tures of Ozzy Toffy, the wiz­ard Rin, and a me­chan­i­cal bird named Clark as they try to un­cover the ori­gins of a mys­te­ri­ous mind-con­trol serum. They’re joined by Rin’s daugh­ter, Sigi, and a few vil­lains, too. Obert Skye, who also wrote the best­selling book Leven Thumps, has cre­ated a be­liev­able, lively world of magic and make-be­lieve.

Ozzy, the child of two kid­napped sci­en­tists, was the fi­nal test case for their mind-con­trol drug. The “dis­ci­pline serum” they in­vented has Ozzy by the neck: one night, with­out re­al­iz­ing it, he walks straight into the ocean. Seek­ing help for his con­di­tion, Ozzy reaches out to Rin, the plaid pants-wear­ing wiz­ard who helped him find his par­ents. Rin’s ac­tual mag­i­cal skills seem lim­ited: he’s more likely to launch into mansplain­ing or sen­ten­tious sup­po­si­tions than to pro­duce func­tional en­chant­ment. How­ever, he’s the best Ozzy’s got, and to­gether they set out to find an an­ti­dote for the serum.

What­ever Rin’s short­com­ings, he has one great strength: he be­lieves in Ozzy and magic, and is will­ing to power through what­ever wild goose chase lies ahead. Sigi, Rin’s daugh­ter, is es­pe­cially well­drawn, and her droll ado­les­cent at­ti­tude is a nice foil for her dad’s ag­gres­sive op­ti­mism.

This main plot would be suf­fi­cient to sup­port the en­tire novel, but a sec­ond story is Tur­duck­ened in­side it: Rin wants Ozzy to be­come his ap­pren­tice so that he can move on to the next level of wiz­ardry. Both of th­ese plots are well-de­vel­oped, if they crowd one an­other through­out the novel.

Ap­pren­tice Needed is an am­bi­tious sec­ond book that is full of won­der­ful, trans­port­ing ex­po­si­tion and re­al­is­tic char­ac­ters who pur­sue bet­ter-than-re­al­is­tic ad­ven­tures.

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