Publisher: Mitch Reinhardt
Released: December 19th 2016
Received: Review request
I received a copy of Wizards Key in exchange for a fair and honest review.
What first caught my eye about Wizards Key was the beautiful cover – I mean really, take a minute to look at it. It’s so simple and elegant, understated almost. The description is what sold me on the novel however. If you’re looking for a Young Adult novel that is a blend of Arthurian legend and the Chronicles of Narnia, then this is the perfect book for you. It’s a quick read and perfect for anybody out there looking for a good fantasy novel, and its light enough for younger readers to appreciate it as well.
Everything starts out pretty normal; a bullied kid hanging out at his home by himself. Pretty typical, right? It doesn’t take long before this view starts to shift; Geoff’s father is an archeologist, not exactly something one would consider a typical career. Before the chapter is over, Geoff, along with Sawyer and Jane are teleported to what we can only assume is another world.
It’s pretty clear why this novel kept reminding me of Arthurian novels and the Chronicles of Narnia. We have three drastically different children (Geoff, the bookworm, Sawyer, the jock, and Jane, the overachiever) that are transported through a magical doorway to another world. Sound familiar? Because it should. The world they’re transported to reminds me much of the magical worlds we frequently see in epic fantasy novels; elves, humans, druids all at war for their lives against a great foe (almost has a Lord of the Rings feel to it, when you put it like that). There are magical (and possibly sentient) swords, prophecies, the whole nine yards.
I’ll admit it took me a little while to get into Wizards Key – it was probably for the first chapter or two I kept putting it down and getting distracted. Once I got past that part though I was wholly invested in the characters and what happened to them.
What I really loved about this book was not only the plot (more on that in a moment) but the characters and the difference between them. Each of the three main characters gets their own perspective, which we rotate between. What’s wonderful about this is that it means there’s something for everyone. The way Geoff sees the world is different from the way Sawyer sees it, and Jane sees everything different than the boys. I think this will help increase the appeal to a broader range of readers, at least in theory.
As for the plot, I believe it has a lot of potential. It is exactly what I would expect from a young adult version of an epic fantasy story; there’s the gradual buildup, basing events off of a prophecy, multiple characters trying to do what is good and right, as well as a yet unseen villain behind all the horrible events that have occurred. Once I found myself interested in what was happening, I couldn’t put the book down.
I found the writing style to be intriguing; the series reads as a lighthearted fantasy, despite all the heavy events that are occurring in the world (there’s even some pretty gruesome character deaths). In that sense it reminds me a lot of the Hobbit – heavy subject matter written in a way that a younger audience won’t be overwhelmed. Admittedly Wizards Key is targeting a slightly older audience than the Hobbit but the point still applies.
I’ll be curious to see where the next book takes us, as the ending was not a cliffhanger, but it was also very much open ended – much like the endings in Chronicles of Narnia, where the children always come home at the end, even though you know there’s more to the story. I think the three main characters will be back in the next novel, though Reinhardt could easily shift the focus onto a new set of characters if he chose to. It’ll be interesting to see which way he goes with it.