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The Magician's Tower: An Oona Crate Mystery Hardcover – February 26, 2013
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
Oona is a marvelously gifted magician, but she wants to be a detective instead. Intrigued by the Contest of the Magician’s Tower, which requires both mental and physical strength and has never been won, Oona enters but finds herself distracted by memories of her mother’s death as well as a missing Punch Bowl Oracle. This clever sequel to The Wizard of Dark Street (2011) features an admirable heroine and an original plot laced with logic puzzles. Fantasy lovers will have a great time with this one. Grades 5-8, --Melissa Moore
This clever sequel to The Wizard of Dark Street (2011) features an admirable heroine and an original plot laced with logic puzzles. Fantasy lovers will have a great time with this one. --Booklist
A traditional mystery structure and word puzzles mix nicely with action-packed magical stunts. Michael Buckley's The Sisters Grimm readers will find this series worth following. -- School Library Journal
Top customer reviews
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Partly, I'd guess, it's just that the bloom is off the rose, so to speak. But it's also Oona herself. I really enjoyed her character in book one, but in this one, she started to get on my nerves.
Oona was introduced to us as a young girl who, though she retains enough girlishness that we don't forget that she's not an adult (the way so many authors seem to when it comes to their own YA characters!), is sensible, and logical, and practical, and highly intelligent. The combination of little girl and capable protagonist was very well done. In this one, though, she...I dunno, regresses? Her bad traits start to come out a bit more — she's headstrong, she makes foolish decisions, she allows herself to get needled by her rivals... She doesn't seem quite as mature, which makes her harder to relate to. I'd have expected Oona to apply her impressive mind to her problems. And...well, she does, but not without indulging in a bit of scowling and foot-stomping first.
Another (fairly minor) irritation was the inclusion of a couple of devices that quickly grew tiresome. Isadora, Oona's main rival, has a boyfriend, and as soon as he's introduced, Isadora refers to him in conversation as “my BOYFRIEND.” All caps, just like that. I assume that it was written that way to imply bragging. Well...it does. To the point of obnoxiousness. Another bit I didn't care for was the recurring theme of “chivalry,” which didn't have as much of an impact on the plot as I'd have expected, given how often it came up. I suppose I just didn't care for these characters, and not because they're antagonists, but because they're annoying.
The whole not-having-an-impact thing brings up another thing: there are couple of situations that Oona finds herself in that don't really go anywhere. I'll assume they were included to set up a plot line for book three, but it felt a bit untidy.
But, I'm doing a lot of nitpicking for a book that got a respectable three stars, so I ought to make it clear that I did like it. Not as much as I liked the first book, but it wasn't bad by any means. I enjoyed the light, cheerful plot, I enjoyed most of the side characters — I love the wizard, I love Samuligan, and I really really love Deacon! — and I enjoyed the little flashes of humor. Despite my three-star rating, I've already purchased and started book three; The Magician's Tower may not have been perfect, but there's...well, a *magic* to this series that suggests I'll find myself back on Dark Street sometime down the road.
My only complaint (which is actually a compliment to the author) is that I am anxious to know more about the fascinating world that is Dark Street and Oona's magical training. In particular, I look forward to learning more about Samuligan, a character who continues to intrigue and amuse.
Overall, this book is a worthy sequel to "The Wizard of Dark Street" and I look forward to exploring this universe further in future installments!
I recommend this book to anyone who looks at it!
And what I like about this book is that it's adventurous and unpredictable.
First, we have a creatively and imaginatively conceived, but also manageable, alternate world. Dark City is located between our world and the world of Faerie. It consists mainly of a long High Street that connects the gate to New York City, (which opens once a year), and the gate to Faerie, which hasn't opened for over 500 hundred years. Dark City is populated by a wild selection of eccentrics, so there is never any shortage of interesting characters to populate the stories and to carry on the various plots and sub plots, but this is not an overly complex world. The focus is on Oona Crate and her life and adventures, not on detailed world building. As I say, it seems that this mix would be very appealing to and manageable for a middle grade reader.
Second, and maybe best of all, we have a really well developed and appealing heroine. Oona is an apprentice wizard, (although this book isn't just all wizards and magic). She's also a wannabe detective. She's an orphan being raised by her wizard uncle. Oona is smart, sensible, clear eyed and brave. She is old enough to be interested in boys, but there's no YA romance to speak of. Oona is observant, ambitious, conscientious and loyal. She is a combination of all of the cardinal virtues of all of the heroes and heroines you know from middle grade fantasies and mysteries. I liked her; I liked being in her company; I liked her moxie and her vulnerability. I just don't quite see how you create a better character for this kind of book. Her uncle is a strong character and her sidekick is a talking raven with a sense of humor and a devotion to propriety, who is a living repository of all arcane knowledge. (Think of a google search engine who reports to you through your pet raven and you get the idea.)
Finally, the book is nicely plotted. The arc of the series has one line - what happened to Oona's Dad. The arc of this book addresses whether Oona played some inadvertent role in the deaths of her mother and sister. The immediate plot follows the mystery of a missing mystical object, and the progress of the once-every-five-years Magician's Tower challenge. There are also a few recurring side issues, (Oona's conflict with the local non-magical police detective, and so on). So, this is not a one trick book. Big mysteries, small mysteries, open-ended mysteries, some resolutions - all of this is going on in this one book, and that keeps the action moving.
It probably goes without saying, but I should mention, that the book is well written. It has been carefully edited; grammar, punctuation and spelling are all correct. Vocabulary is age appropriate. There are some nice lines, some well turned phrases, and a general feel of professional assurance to the writing.
So, if you have a reader who might like a mystery, an adventure, some magic, some drama, upbeat narrative drive and a strong young heroine, this is definitely a book worth looking at. (Note: This book is the sequel to "The Wizard of Dark Street". You don't have to have read that book to follow this one, but the series will develop more clearly for you if the books are read in order. For example, the first book devotes much more attention than this one does to describing Dark Street and what it is and how it works.)
Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to the author or the publisher of this book.
Most recent customer reviews
I love Oona Crate! In case you didn't read my review of The Wizard of Dark Street (Oona Crate Mystery, #1), let me tell you this again...Read more