WIZARD FOR HIRE, by Obert Skye, Shadow Mountain, March 6, 2018, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 10-14)
I’ve known about author Obert Skye’s work — especially the Leven Thumps series — for some time now, but Wizard for Hire is my first official foray into the author’s work.
At the center of Wizard for Hire is 14-year-old Ozzy whose scientist parents were abducted from their remote Oregon cabin/home when he was 7. Ozzy witnessed the whole thing. Since then, Ozzy has been on his own. His parents had stockpiled a lot of food in their basement and had taught Ozzy to read. So Ozzy raised himself off the grid.
By the time he reaches 14, though, Ozzy realizes he must find out what really happened to his parents. Ozzy’s read books, so he knows what can happen to kids who are by themselves. Ozzy is straight out scared of going to the police. He knows he needs help, though.
When he comes across a classified ad in the local newspaper that says “Wizard for Hire. Call 555-SPEL,” Ozzy knows he’s found his answer. Having read about wizards in Harry Potter Ozzy is familiar with the thought of magic, but he never thought it was real.
Enter Labyrinth — aka Rin.
Rin dresses like a wizard — sort of (short robe and high-top tennis shoes) — and he does have a strange way of speaking. But he also eats breakfast for every meal and never casts any spells.
But Rin believes Ozzy’s story and believes in Ozzy. With the help of a robotic-talking raven invented by Ozzy’s father, a kind and curious girl at school, Ozzy thinks he might just have a chance at finding his parents.
Wizard for Hire is the first book in a planned series, but it definitely stands alone. While the ending leaves room for expansion, it also provides a satisfying, though somewhat unexpected, conclusion.
As with other middle-grade books from Shadow Mountain (think Fablehaven and Mysteries of the Cove), Wizard for Hire is impeccably edited. Even the advanced reader copy I received was cleaner than most. Because of that attention to detail, I was able to easily slip into Ozzy’s world. Any questions I had/have are little nuggets placed by the author on purpose.
Obert Skye’s writing is immediately accessible. His pacing is strong, allowing the action to ebb and flow at a natural pace and then pick up for a heart-racing climax with some surprising developments.
Wizard for Hire is unlike any book I’ve read before. Skye carefully skirts around and through magical elements in a way that has you constantly questioning if it magic exists or if things are just happy accidents.
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