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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Wizard of Dark Street by Shawn Thomas Odyssey

Release Date: July 26, 2011
Publisher: Egmont USA
Age Group: Middle Grade
Source: Publisher
Pages: 348
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble /
IndieBound / Book Depository
Description: Goodreads
Oona Crate was born to be the Wizard’s apprentice, but she has another destiny in mind. Despite possessing the rare gift of natural magic, Oona wants to be a detective.

Eager for a case to prove herself, she wants to show her uncle—the Wizard of Dark Street—that logic is as powerful as magic. But when someone attacks the Wizard, Oona must delve even deeper into the world of magic to discover who wanted her uncle dead.
Printed in the classified section of the New York Times on November 4th, 1876 was the following ad:


Must be punctual, literate, courageous, clever, imaginative, adventurous, mysterious, open-minded, open-hearted, intuitive, and above all else must be trusted with some of the most secret and powerful knowledge in this world or any other.

No experience necessary.

Please send resume to:

Pendulum House, Number 19
Dark Street, on the Drift
New York, New York (Little London Town)

Oona Crane is the current Wizard’s Apprentice, or was until she decided to give it all up and stop using her natural magical talents forever. Instead, this precocious 12-year-old has decided to change her fate and work as a private detective—something that Little London Town desperately needs, given the incompetence of the police. Now her uncle, the Wizard, has to find her replacement. However, mysteries lie around every corner as things start disappearing all over town, so when cobblestones, dresses, and finally the Wizard go missing, it’s up to Oona and her faithful friend Deacon, an encyclopedic talking raven, to find out what’s really happening around Dark Street.

I love a cast of quirky characters, and this book has them positively spilling out of the pages, from bumbling detectives, faerie butlers and an actor fallen from favor to tattooed lawyers, snooty dressmakers and a shadowy villain who has been disrupting the workings of the town behind the scenes for generations. Even the setting is an important character in the book. Little London Town is essentially unknown to the rest of New York because its Iron Gates only open for 1 minute a day and its Glass Gates are locked, protecting the rest of the world from the realm of faerie. This is a place where magic still lives. Graveyards are overtaken by the dead at night, a hill houses witches that no one ever sees and a prison tower is run by goblins. The crowning achievement is Pendulum House, the home of the Wizard. Each magical room has a theme, including the jungle room, home to an actual jungle; the captain’s cabin, which is shaped like a ship and responds to the motions of the sea independent of the rest of the house; and a pink room, which turns everything in it pink.

The setting and supporting characters are the perfect backdrop for the multiple mysteries that intersect throughout the story, but Oona carries it all with her spunk and curiosity. Smarts are a detective’s greatest advantage, and our heroine uses hers to forge through this adventure. Solving riddles, overcoming fears and past mistakes, and braving the unknown, her cleverness shines through the pages while the twists, turns and red herrings will keep the audience enjoying this delightful ride. The book contains enough bread crumbs to keep readers working to solve everything with the mischievous apprentice. A fun first installment in this middle grade mystery series.

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