The Wizard of Dark Street, by Shawn Thomas Odyssey

The Wizard of Dark Street (Egmont, July 26, 2011, 352 pages, middle grade), by Shawn Thomas Odyssey, has the following appealing elements, combined very nicely indeed to make a fun, beautifully middle-grade read:

--an orphan girl named Oona with an innate talent for magic, a gift that led to a terrible tragedy a few years ago
--a fascinating place, Dark Street, poised between a gate leading to our world at one end (which opens for just one minute ever night) and a gate to the fairy realm, locked after a fierce war some years before
--a mystery that could threaten the very existence not just of Dark Street, but our world as well, and cast our orphaned heroine out into the streets
--and (bonus features) a talking raven, a charming first crush, a captured fairy general forced to become a de facto butler, and some beautiful dresses.

Twelve-year old Oona would rather be a detective than a wizard, so when her uncle is (maybe) murdered by an enchanted dagger, she's determined to crack the case. But she's pretty sure that the villain behind it all is the same one who had her father murdered years ago...and in order to save uncle, Dark Street, and her own home (the beautifully imagined Pendulum House on which Dark Street depends), her penchant for logic and deduction might need help from the magical gifts she rejected after an enchantment went horribly wrong.

It's fun, it's fast, it has a pleasantly diverse cast of characters and a vividly imagined fantastical setting. I can't speak to the quality of the mystery, qua mystery--I'm not the sort of reader that thinks critically while reading, picking up clues and looking for inconsistencies; instead, reading a book like this, I am happy to be swept along, wide-eyed and slack-jawed....But regardless of that, I thought the concept of the heroine wanting to be a detective rather than a wizard was a nice twist, and Oona is a thoroughly engaging young heroine.

This is a lovely one to give to a ten or eleven year old girl in particular. I didn't find it to have a huge ton of emotional whumph, but it's a nice tight package of charming entertainment!

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher


  1. Orphans in books have all the fun :) This one sounds cute. I hadn't heard of it before, but it sounds like my kind of book. Thanks!

  2. I hadn't heard of this one either. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. It sounds perfect for my daughter.

  3. I am not sure if it is for me, but the cover is fun!

  4. Oh, I've been wanting this one! Thanks for the review.

  5. Sounds thoroughly fun. I'll have to look for it.

  6. I shall have to track down this one!

  7. I can't wait to read it.

    I love your review...

  8. I really have a thing for fantasies set in worlds that lay alongside ours. The blurring of the edges between what we think of as reality and those magical worlds fascinates me, which is probably why I love the Harry Potter series so much (and why I'm working on a couple of stories with those kinds of worlds myself). The Wizard of Dark Street takes place on Dark Street (oddly enough), a little neighborhood that's linked to New York City, but is actually a bridge between the normal world and the Land of Faerie. It's a highly entertaining blend of Harry Potter-esque magic and Holmesian detective work.

    1. I enjoyed this one lots too, in large part for that reason!


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