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The Wizard of Dark Street: An Oona Crate Mystery Hardcover – July 26, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Oona Crate Mystery Series

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Delightful cover art will attract Lemony Snicket and Neil Gaiman readers, who will enjoy the quirky characters and offbeat humor. Upbeat in tone, this delight is an excellent blend of fantasy and mystery with a variety of suspicious characters and enough red herrings to keep the reader guessing all the way to the end." --BOOKLIST

*Starred Review* "Odyssey's lyrical descriptions ("It was a place as ancient as the wind, where candlestick trees replaced light posts, and street clocks told jokes as well as time") and consummate world-building result in a wonderfully fresh fantasy-detective story."  -- Publishers Weekly

"This mystery has an intriguing cast of characters and classic detective elements. The concept of a magical street filled with quirky denizens will please readers, as will Oona's independent spirit. Boys and girls will appreciate the protagonist's magical Nancy Drew-type capers and her straightforward style." -- School Library Journal

About the Author

When he's not writing novels, Shawn Thomas Odyssey is a professional music composer for film and TV, with works including HBO's Deadwood and the video game release of Kung Fu Panda. He is married to a mysterious dancer whom he met while working at a haunted theater. Shawn lives in Nevada City, California, and you can visit him online at shawnthomasodyssey.com and thewizardofdarkstreet.com
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 890L (What's this?)
  • Series: An Oona Crate Mystery
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: EgmontUSA (July 26, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606841432
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606841433
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,155,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

For eight mysterious years Shawn Thomas Odyssey labored extremely long hours in a 140-seat (and rumored to be haunted) professional theatre in Santa Barbara, California. There he worked as an actor, a musician, a stagehand, a set builder, a scenic painter, casting coordinator, and was the person they sent into the dank, dark underbelly of the theatre to find rusty old props and spider infested wigs.

Upon his perilous escape from this life of daring stagecraft, he began an equally death-defying career as a music composer for film, television, and video games, creating scores for HBO's Deadwood and the Activision/Dreamworks video game Kung Fu Panda.

As if these daunting careers were not enough, he sought out even more fearsome territory by writing all kinds of treacherous stories, plays, and books, and acquired a tireless obsession for research into a subject he likes to call "the Dark Street phenomenon."

Shawn lives in California and you can visit him online at:
http://www.thewizardofdarkstreet.com
and
http://www.shawnthomasodyssey.com

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
I really have a thing for fantasies set in worlds that lay alongside ours. The blurring of the edges between what we think of as reality and those magical worlds fascinates me, which is probably why I love the Harry Potter series so much (and why I'm working on a couple of stories with those kinds of worlds myself). The Wizard of Dark Street takes place on Dark Street (oddly enough), a little neighborhood that's linked to New York City, but is actually a bridge between the normal world and the Land of Faerie. It's a highly entertaining blend of Harry Potter-esque magic and Holmesian detective work.

Oona Crate is the Dark Street Wizard's apprentice and niece, but Oona doesn't want to be the Wizard. She doesn't even want to use magic anymore, not after the horrid accident. So she and her magical talking raven, Deacon (who's more of a flying encyclopedia than a regular old bird), snoop around Dark Street, trying to solve mysteries. When a very big mystery involving stolen dresses, missing cobblestones, and her uncle's apparent murder falls into her lap, Oona hopes she's not in over her head. She must use all of her detective's cunning to solve this mystery before she loses her uncle forever, and before the very fabric of Dark Street falls apart.

It's easy to compare magical young adult literature to Harry Potter, but The Wizard of Dark Street mimics the feel of Rowling's series, for lack of a more precise term. Odyssey's way of describing the setting and the characters is very visual and whimsical, and I had no trouble at all picturing the strange world of Dark Street.
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Format: Paperback
I am disappointed that so many reviews compared this book to the Harry Potter series. While I'm sure lots of kids will enjoy this book, it is no where near that level of children's literature. Although it was a fun story, it was a challenge for me to read to my students. They liked it, but as a well read adult who is also versed in children's literature, I felt there were several 'new author' issues that will hopefully be addressed in the author's future books (I have not read his second book.) The most noticeable for me was how overwritten it was. Not every sentence needs three adjectives and three adverbs! In my head I kept thinking, "This is not an introductory creative writing class! Edit! Please, for goodness sake, get out a red pen!" as I was reading aloud. This problem arose frequently enough that it detracted from my enjoyment of the story.

Also noticeable was the challenge in consistently conveying the time period. Every so often as you are reading along, something happens that rips you back to remembering that this story is supposed to take place over 100 years ago. Not that characters are using cell phones or anything, but much of it doesn't have the feel of the time period. It is almost as if the author throws in details about the date, or similar reminders, just so people don't forget when this story is taking place.

The other thing that was really apparent to me was the many times the author (intentionally or not) borrowed from other popular children's literature. I am sure it's very difficult to write a children's book, particularly with the popularity of other books in this genre, but it would be advantageous for the author to find an editor really familiar with children's literature who can read for ideas too closely related to another auhor's work, as well as content.

I am sure many children will enjoy the story of Oona, but I hope the author will improve on these areas in future books.
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Format: Hardcover
Dark Street is a place of magic, hidden from most of New York's residents, where Oona Crate dreams of becoming a detective. But with her natural ability with magic, she has been training as a Wizard's apprentice to her uncle. After a tragic magical accident killed her family, Oona wants nothing to do with magic. But when her uncle is attacked, Oona must use both her skills at detection and magic to uncover the plot behind the Wizard's assault.

Oona Crate is a smart, resourceful, and sympathetic character. Meanwhile, the police inspectors are brainless and frustrating. Odyssey's Dark Street is a dark and mysterious place with witches, goblins, fairies, and other magical creatures.

A clever mystery based in a fantasy world, this middle grade novel is a fun and highly entertaining read for all ages. Full of adventure, suspense, humor and zany characters, this fast-paced mystery is impossible to put down. In the vein of the classic whodunit, the adventure culminates with an exciting and surprising ending. Don't miss this excellent and amusing fantasy.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A determined heroine, check. A devastating loss, check. Mysterious happenings, check. Oona wants to be a detective, but after a close call with a guillotine, her uncle makes her promise to avoid 'deadly criminals.' And she tries hard to do so, but when her uncle disappears while choosing a new apprentice, Oona wonders if she made the right choice in giving up magic. I found Oona a delightful character and really enjoyed reading about her. In spite of the tragedies in her life, she continues to fight to find her place on Dark Street. Unlike many other child characters she prefers to avoid magic and gives up her role as apprentice to her uncle, the wizard of Dark Street. But can she find her uncle without using magic? With the help of her walking encyclopedia of a pet, a raven, and her uncle's fairie servant, Oona sets out to rescue her uncle and solve the mystery of who attacked him and why.

Perfect for middle graders who aren't quite ready for the more intense, difficult fantasies such as Harry Potter. The author uses a light-hearted touch that makes the book easy to read even when the tragedies in Oona's past are brought up. The book provides plenty of humorous moments along with an interesting mystery. I found it fascinating to follow Oona's methodical but entertaining efforts to solve the mystery. But her strong spirit stands her in good stead when she faces the culprits. A fun story that I thoroughly enjoyed.
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