The Young Wizards

Story time.

When my little brother and I were kids, we were part of the library’s summer reading program every year. At the end of the program, if we’d done all the eating hours we were supposed to, the library would give us a book. There were all kinds of books on the shelf to choose from: Lord of the Rings, picture books, Percy Jackson, I even grabbed the Odyssey one summer during high school.

One summer, not long after we had moved into the area,  my brother got the the bookshelf before me, and naturally grabbed the biggest thing on the shelf. The librarians all cooed at the sight of such a little kid with such a big book. I’ve seen bigger books since then, but at the time it looked huge: the spine was maybe three inches wide, and the inside was all print. No pictures. It was called The Young Wizards.

I don’t think my brother has ever actually read it, or at least not all the way through. I did, several times.

That book held the first five books in the Young Wizards series by Diane Duane, and at the time I thought that was all there was. It was enough. The gist of the story is that some kids, twelve or thirteen years old when they first start, find books on wizardry, and befriend one another over the shared interest. The books work, and they get pulled along on  various adventures to slow down entropy.

Adventure is a sort of tame word for it. Their first “adventure,” for instance, gets them pulled into a nightmare parallel-universe Manhattan where the cars are predators and the fire hydrants eat pigeons, created by a being known as the Lone Power, the one who created death.

Cheerful, right?

After books like  Fablehaven and The  Dark is Rising, this was one of my favorite books. The kids’ wizardry is all done through words,  and  one of the recurring themes of the series is how powerful words are to shape the universe. For a writer-to-be like myself, this was great.

The series was also one of the first things to spark my interest in Irish mythology and folklore, since  one of the kids gets sent to Ireland by her parents and  spends some time fighting off monsters straight from the myths. And there’s a scene with a cat going up a chimney that’s exactly like one of the folktales.

The reason I’m thinking about this right now is that I found out there are more books in the series than just the five books in that volume my brother had. Naturally, I have to reread everything. You know, when I’m not doing homework and other responsible adult things. I’ve already started.

It’s reminding me of the reasons I love storytelling so much, and why I’m trying to make telling stories my life’s occupation. There were plenty of frightening things in those books, but I never really got scared. I  was too busy feeling wonder at how a world so real could be conjured up with print on a page, and how the kids fighting the war against the corruption of good felt like something that had always been happening.

I was too young to have the story properly change my life, but it certainly had a hand in shaping it.

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A touch of poetry

I’m six years old.

I spin around

and around

under a light fixture,

looking

at how the glass

makes  the light dance.

An adult says,

“Get out of the way.”

I don’t have words to ask

why they haven’t taken a moment

to look where I’m looking.

*

I’m thirteen years old.

I’ll tell anyone

even if they aren’t listening

all about

Scorpio and Orion

Perseus

The Pleiades

and every star I have a name for.

All the stories

that shape the world

because

they shape how we perceive it.

Is anyone listening?

I can’t tell.

*

I’m nineteen years old.

My little brother’s convertible

yanks itself down the highway

top down.

I’m in the back seat.

Warm summer air

pushes

on my face and arms

tugs at my hair.

I’m happier and calmer than I’ve ever been.

I’m still smiling

after the ride’s done

for a while.

*

Is there a point

to the tale?

Does there need to be?

This is what I remember.

This is what made me

me.

Michael Vey: Fall of Hades review

Story time. I actually met Richard Paul Evans, author of this and other amazing books, this past spring at an education summit he spoke at. His talk was all about what he wishes he’d known in middle school, but I’m  in college and found it relevant and inspiring.

Why was I, the arts major, at an education summit? My grandparents were running it.

But that’s another story. Let’s talk about the story I’m reviewing.

  If the best books are the ones that have you desperate for someone to rage with about the ending, this probably outranks even that most infuriating of cliffhanger books, Mark of Athena.

They both have Greek deities’ names in the title. Funny coincidence.

But it isn’t just the cliffhanger that makes this book memorable. Without a story of substance and characters worth caring for, a cliffhanger is just a cheap trick. This one was the real deal, especially regarding the characters. Mr. Evans has a particular gift for  creating diverse, relatable characters.

And then putting them through the worst a twisted imagination can throw at them, because why not?

All the characters, even many of the supposedly bad guys, were relateable in their own ways. We may not have agreed with them, but we understood why they did what they did and it didn’t feel like it was just for the plot.  It’s difficult to do that with a cast that large. And then to have the main ones all have their own arcs too? Pretty good.

I loved it. Loved the characters, at least, which lead to loving the story. I may have been sorely tempted to throw the book at a wall at the incredibly awesome but ambiguous end, but I loved it.

I’ll probably talk more about what exactly was awesome about the end, along with speculations about the last book, after more people have had time to read it.

Today’s drawing: Not an inktober piece, but there was this kid asleep at the library while I was studying and I just couldn’t resist a quick sketch.

Inktober

Inktober is a bit weird. All the challenge asks is to make an ink drawing a day, and yet, because of the month this occurs in, it’s taken as a given that most of the drawings will be odd or unsettling in some way.

I’m pretty much okay with that, but it still makes me wonder why being scared is so popular this time of year. Or not being scared at scary things. I’m not sure which it actually is.

Part of it is bravado, I think. Telling the world we aren’t scared of anything, when really  we’re terrified. But there’s more to it. Welcome To Night Vale, Lovecraft, and all the other scary stories and storytellers don’t become popular simply by being creepy. They say something with that fear. They all say something different, but they all say something.

I had the chance to see Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children last week. It’s a good example  of that. It’s about being different, and how that’s okay, and it’s about being brave for the people we care about. Courage doesn’t happen without fear, after all.

Side note: the movie didn’t follow the book exactly, but it stayed true to the heart of the story, which I think is more important.  Also there was a skeleton army, which was probably inevitable when Tim Burton got handed a character who could animate the dead. It was awesome.

Anyways, try not to get too scared this month. If you want to see the rest of my Inktober drawings, check out my Twitter, @enoughdragons or my tumblr, @onedragontorulethemall.