Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday's Radar: A Plague of Sorcerers

At 16 Jermyn is a bit of an embarrassment. He hasn't attracted a familiar yet, and he's years behind since he can't officially become an apprentice magician until he does. His aunt has confidence in him, but Jermyn is beginning to fear that he'll never be a wizard.

But when his aunt is about to fall in a great duel, Jermyn finds his power and calls his familiar in a reflexive bid to save her. It's an impressive show of power, but it earns him no friends. It, in fact, gives him a very powerful enemy. And if that wasn't enough for the new apprentice to deal with, rather than calling the customary bird or cat, Jermyn has bonded to a very unusual creature indeed. A skunk.

It's just in time, as soon the wizarding city becomes victim to a magical plague that's quickly infecting the magicians. As each wizard falls, that's one less to find a cure and discover the root of the epidemic. Jermyn, naturally, is ideally placed to help out - between studying.

I ran across Mary Frances Zambreno's A Plague of Sorcerers years ago while shelving. It was consistently the very last book in the children's fiction section, and after some time it was just mocking me, daring me to read it. I'm always up for a good fantasy, and diseases fascinate me, so I figured this was a sure bet. It's a fun read, although for the younger set, and is, of course, out of print. Worldcat claims that 536 libraries still own copies.

I'm really not one for mysteries, as I said at the beginning of this week, but this one has the benefit of a thoroughly believable fantasy universe with very interesting plot twist. I didn't realize that it was actually a mystery until I was completely invested. Plus, I always root for the underdog. And Jermyn is definitely that. But you've gotta watch those guys, they tend to win when you aren't looking.

If you are lucky enough to have a copy, give it with confidence to fans of Christopher Golden's Outcast series, Suzanne Collins' Underland Chronicles, definitely Tamora Pierce's Circle books, or anyone who will appreciate a good magical mystery featuring an underrated boy. ;)

Today's Radar Recs across the kidlitosphere:
  1. A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy: The Vietnam books by Ellen Emerson White
  2. Big A, little a: The Deep by Helen Dunmore
  3. Bildungsroman: The May Bird Trilogy by Jodi Lynn Anderson
  4. Chasing Ray: Kipling's Choice by Geert Spillebeen
  5. Finding Wonderland: The Avion My Uncle Flew by Cyrus Fisher
  6. Fuse Number 8: Stoneflight by George McHarque:
  7. lectitans: Gentle's Holler and Louisiana Song both by Kerry Madden
  8. Not Your Mother's Bookclub: A look at some recently revised classics
  9. 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast: Such a Pretty Face: Short Stories About Beauty edited by Ann Angel
  10. The YA YA YAs: Resurrection Men by TK Welsh


Anonymous said...

A skunk? That's awesome. Thanks for the rec!

Anonymous said...

i remember reading this book in elementary school and thought it kicked so much more then harry potter did, crying shame it never got finished