This was my Random Read for January and I received an e-arc of this book from HarperCollins on Edelweiss.
Jinx's life has never been easy. First his mother was abducted by fairies and his father by werewolves. Then he was left with his step-father who remarried and has another child and since there is not enough food for everyone, his step-father takes him off the path to leave him at the mercy of the Urwald, the magical forest with all kinds of bloodthirsty magical creatures. Fortunately and unfortunately, a wizard named Simon sees his step-father attempting to abandon him and saves the boy from trolls, trolls who abduct his step-father. Jinx is left with Simon, who uses the boy as a servant, while keeping him away from magic and books, until Simon's wife Sophie comes for a visit. Sophie lives in Samara, a place that has banned wizard, and Sophie is Simon's conscience. Sophie demands Simon teach Jinx to read, quoting the Samaran saying, "Knowledge is Power." Simon also decided to teach Jinx magic and to finally allow him to walk on the path in the Urwald. It is there they met the Bonemaster, who puts terror in everyone's minds, a terror Jinx can physically see. Jinx has two special abilities in fact, seeing people's emotions in colors that surround them, and being able to talk to the trees. The Bonemaster seems interested in Jinx and Simon seems worried. The two make a trip to see a witch Dame Glimmer and Simon barters for ingredients from her. Simon works a magical spell and takes away Jinx's power of seeing emotions and Jinx fears he has taken even more than that. Jinx decides to leave and meets two other characters, Reven and Elfwyn, who both have curses placed on them. The three decide the only one who can help is the Bonemaster, and they put their lives and possibly more on the line.
Blackwood's writing style really captures your attention. Filled with the themes of love, loyalty, and friendship, the story is magical and plays with the idea of good and evil. It reminded me of the storytelling of Harry Potter, but for a little bit younger audience. I think upper elementary and lower middle school students would love this, particularly boys. I also loved it. The characters were humorous and most were big-hearted as well.
Favorite Character: Jinx. He is loyal to Simon, even after the incident, and loyal to his two friends. He may not always be nice, but he is caring. I also enjoyed Simon and Jinx's relationship, it is not quite the conventional adoptive father and son relationship, but they care for each other in a gruff, kind of sweet way.
Favorite Quotes: "'Knowledge is Power.' She threw the three words at him like a challenge, and they hung in the air between them, hovering on an updraft of fury."
"Even us evil wizards have our good days."
"'Life is dangerous, said Simon. Young people need to see the world."
"'Faint heart never won fair lady!' 'Dead heart never won fair lady either,' said Jinx."
Blackwood has some great descriptive language in the story and I liked Jinx's dry sense of humor. This was another 5 cups of cocoa book for me! I can think of several kids and a few adults who would enjoy reading Jinx.