The Wizards of Once. Cressida Cowell

3.5 stars for this children’s fantasy adventure book.

This novel is the first in a new series by Cressida Cowell and it is a fun and scary adventure. The main characters are thirteen-year-olds Xar, younger son of a powerful Wizard king, and Wish, the seventh daughter of Sychorax, Queen of the Warriors. Xar is a self-absorbed, overconfident, unthinking, infuriating boy who will do anything to obtain magic: most Wizard children have their Magic ‘come in’ by the age of 13 and Xar worries that he will never have Magic unless he steals it from a Witch. Wish is kind, lonely, thoughtful and dismissed by most as unWarriorlike and very unlike her beautiful scary mother the Queen. They are accompanied by a host of other characters including Bodkin, conscientious Assistant Bodyguard to Wish who discovers he has a ‘slight fainting issue’ when faced with danger, Crusher a gentle Giant, snowcats, sprites, hairy fairies and an enchanted spoon. The characters and their relationships are beautifully drawn.

It is an exciting and well plotted tale involving the enmity of Wizards and Warriors; extinct-or-perhaps-not evil Witches; journeys, trials, and quests; lies and uncovered truths; and credible development of the characters. The only aspect of the book that I was less keen on was the narrative voice – this is subjective of course but I found the way the book was narrated rather off-putting, with laboured humour and at times it was just too twee for my liking.

I am not commenting on the illustrations as I was unable to view many of them in my Adavanced Reader Copy.

I received this ebook free from NetGalley in return for an honest review. UK publication: 19 September 2017 by Hodder.

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