In Diane Duane’s So You Want to be a Wizard? , a bookish young girl is always getting picked on, until she finds a book that inducts her into a secret society of wizardry, gets a wizardly chum, and quickly becomes much cooler than her former tormenters. And then in Deep Wizardry , the chums take their magic powers underwater, where they interact with whales ‘n’ dolphins. Then in High Wizardry , they get involved in super-cosmic goings-on and travel all over the galaxy. And A Wizard Abroad involves the magical pals going off to Ireland. Oh, and did I mention the part where there’s a spin-off series focusing on the magical cat wizards who appear briefly in these books?

These are, in short, books that seem to be trying to piss me off, by deliberately taking on every hackneyed and overdone premise, particularly the ones that most grate on my nerves. Young adult Celtic whale wizards in space with magical cats, for the love of all that’s holy!

But — and this is the weird part — I actually liked these books. Duane handicapped herself with the worst premises imaginable, for whatever reason, but she executes them extremely well. And the later books — The Wizard’s Dilemma, A Wizard Alone, and Wizard’s Holiday — have less lame premises, so are arguably just plain good.

That said, they’re only good. There’s some kind of weird cult-like fan club for these books, so there’s a bunch of people going around talking about how great they are. They’re wrong; the books aren’t great, but they’re plenty good enough for light reading.


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