Reviews for Jinx

Booklist Reviews 2013 February #2
*Starred Review* Nearly abandoned in a forest by his stepfather, young orphan Jinx lands, instead, in the home of a wizard, Simon. There Jinx, who has always had an ability to see others' feelings in colors and symbols, develops the ability to communicate with the forest's trees. But after Simon performs a spell, Jinx loses his capacity as an emotional seer. Setting out into the forest to look for a counterspell, Jinx joins company with a girl and a boy, both of whom are suffering under their own curses. In this expertly paced, beautifully written book, Blackwood elevates familiar fantasy elements with exquisitely credible characters who inhabit a world filled with well-drawn magic and whimsy--witches travel by butter churn, for example. Rounding out the exciting story are terrifying dangers, delightful bouts of wordplay, and vivid settings that will appeal to readers' imaginations, senses of humor, and desire for fair play. A literary cut above Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl books but with no less tension or bravado, this exciting, thought-provoking debut will leave readers eager for follow-up adventures. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
Jinx has the ability to see people's emotions in colorful clouds around their heads. After a wizard performs a spell on Jinx, that sixth sense disappears, so he sets out to seek his fortune and regain his power. Flowing dialogue, a mixed Diana Wynne Jones/Lloyd Alexander vibe, and a setting both familiar and original make the novel compelling.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2013 #3
Abandoned in the Urwald by his stepfather, Jinx is adopted by a wizard, Simon, who alternately neglects him and grudgingly teaches him a little magic. Jinx himself has the ability to see people's emotions in colorful clouds around their heads, but after Simon performs a forbidden spell on Jinx, that sixth sense disappears, leaving an absence like a "blank white space inside his head." Jinx sets out through the Urwald to seek his fortune and regain his power, meeting up with chivalrous naif Reven and indiscreetly honest Elfwyn on the Path, the safe road through the woods. They've all been warned against the evil wizard known as the Bonemaster, who is said to be able to suck your soul out through a straw, but what if the Bonemaster, Simon's rival, is the only one who can tell Jinx how to get his magic back (and, incidentally, lift the curses his two friends labor under)? On the other hand, what if it's a trap? Flowing dialogue, easy interactions between the characters, a mixed Diana Wynne Jones/Lloyd Alexander vibe, and a setting both familiar and original (the Urwald's dangers include trolls, vampires, and werewolves but also witches riding butter churns) make the novel immediately inviting and compelling. Unassuming Jinx has a core of steel under his get-along exterior, a mettle that will be tested in future installments. anita l. burkam

Kirkus Reviews 2012 November #1
Making unusually entertaining use of well-worn elements, this series opener plops a dense but promising young wizard-in-training between a pair of obnoxious rival mages. Left by his stepparents to die in the dangerous Urwald, Jinx is rescued by Simon Magus, a "possibly evil" forest-dwelling wizard whose obsession with magical research is matched only by a truly profound lack of people skills. Several years later, having learned a little magic but also injured by one of Simon's spells, Jinx stomps off in a rage to seek help. But hardly has he fallen in with a couple of ensorcelled fellow travelers, than all three fall into the clutches of the genial but rightly feared Bonemaster. Along with setting this adventuresome outing in a sentient forest populated by trolls, werewolves and giddy witches who bound about in butter churns, the pseudonymous Blackwood spins out lively dialogue threaded with comical rudeness and teasing. Trotting out a supporting cast whose inner characters are often at thought-provoking odds with their outer seeming, she also puts her central three through a string of suspenseful, scary situations before delivering a properly balanced closing set of resolutions, revelations and road signs to future episodes. Unsurprisingly, Jinx displays hints of developing powers beyond the ordinary. Astonishingly, he and his world still seem fresh, for all that they echo familiar tropes. (Fantasy. 10-12) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 November #3

In a story with strong middle-grade appeal, Jinx has grown up in the Urwald, an enormous, sentient forest where humans exist on sufferance, safe only in their own clearings and the paths between them. Trolls and werewolves prowl the Urwald, as do dangerous witches and wizards. After Jinx's brutal stepfather decides to abandon him in the forest, the boy is saved by a crusty, morally ambiguous wizard named Simon, who takes him in as a servant, eventually teaching him some magic. Years later, a 12-year-old Jinx and two new friends set off to find another wizard, the monstrous Bonemaster, in hopes he can help them overcome their respective magical troubles. Blackwood, a pseudonym for writer Karen Schwabach (The Storm Before Atlanta), fills her tale with drama and delightfully funny dialogue ("You could have told us you had a curse on you that made you have to tell the truth," Jinx complains at one point). Jinx is an engaging and memorable hero, and adult characters like Simon, the Bonemaster, and the witch Dame Glammer (who rides a butter churn) are entertainingly eccentric. Ages 8-12. Agent: Caitlin Blasdell, Liza Dawson Associates. (Jan.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 January

Gr 4-8--"In the Urwald you grow up fast or not at all," readers learn in the opening of this rich and fecund fantasy. Jinx is that staple of children's literature: the scorned, ill-used orphan who proves to be so much more gifted and important than he ever imagined possible. He occupies a world that is simultaneously original and familiar, influenced by centuries of folklore, but newly envisioned and vividly created. This eldritch, primeval forest that Jinx has been warned to shun is, nevertheless, where he has been abandoned by his heartless stepfather. Blackwood has populated this magical place with convincingly conflicted wizards and witches who seem uncertain as to how much they should be using their skills to control events or the beings around them. Jinx is slow to recognize his own powers as he digs his bare toes into the earth of the forest and feels the pulsing heartbeat of its life, or finds that he can call up fire. He is even slower to divine the motives of the various people he encounters, including Elwyn and Reven-youths under mysterious curses of their own-who navigate the Urwald beside him. Readers will thrill to the journey with Jinx as he discovers and grows into himself. Though they will not feel abandoned at the edge of a cliff at the book's end, they won't be surprised-and will be delighted-if sequels are in the offing.--Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Library, NY

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