Jinx by Sage Blackwood

Young Jinx knows that the thick forest called the Urwald is full of danger. Anyone foolish enough to leave the path is likely to meet a hungry werewolf or elves or, even worse, an evil wizard. So when Jinx’s stepfather decides that he has too many mouths to feed and leads Jinx off the path, he knows things aren’t going to end well. Sure enough, they meet both a wizard and a troll. But much to Jinx’s surprise, he leaves the encounter alive – and with a new home, with the mysterious wizard Simon Magus.

As time passes, Jinx begins to question what he’s heard about wizards. Simon is short tempered, but he doesn’t seem evil. As Jinx grows up in Simon’s home, he gradually learns a lot more about his world: magic is more complicated than he had thought, there is much more outside the Urwald than he would have guessed, and he himself is more unique than he knows at the book’s start. Jinx is a classic fairy tale character: the orphan with more power than anyone expects. He’s also smart, brave and immensely likeable. Simon is also a fascinating character, far more nuanced than he seems at first.

His motives keep the reader guessing as he tries to balance his grudging affection for Jinx with his ambitions as a powerful wizard.

Jinx is written for a middle grade audience, but would appeal to anyone, adult or child, who enjoys a mix of powerful magic, peculiar wizards and witches, unique fantasy worlds and well-written characters at the center of it all. Even better, Jinx’s world is much bigger and more complex at the end of the book than at the start, and Blackwood‘s sequel, Jinx’s Magic, introduces still more to the story. This is shaping up to be one of my favorite fantasy series in years, and I can’t wait for the third book!

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