A Young Feminist in a Magical World

The Magician’s Dream: An Oona Crate Mystery, by Shawn Thomas Odyssey, (Egmont USA), 320 pages, release date 23 June, 2015, publisher recommended for ages 8-12

Once again I’ve stumbled into the middle of a series and have enjoyed myself so much that I’m going to have to go back and read the earlier titles I missed. The Magician’s Dream is the third book in the Oona Crate series. Oona is an apprentice wizard living on Dark Street, a mysterious, revolving realm bridging the world of man (“of humans,” Oona would insist) and the world of the faeries. These are not the fluttery beauties that the word faerie often conjures. These are powerful, malevolent, battle-ready beings. Centuries ago, a wizard locked the gates that let the faeries travel down Dark Street to the world of man (“of humans,” Oona would insist again). Oona is a teen in training to become the next wizard charged with keeping that gateway sealed.

While the publisher is marketing this as a book for late elementary/early middle readers, it’s fun enough to entertain readers on either side of that range. The world of Dark Street is vividly portrayed with a wealth of images to fuel one’s own imagination: a library that is an indoor forest with books spread out along the trees’ branches; magic wallpaper and carpeting that seem like living presences; a dragon-bone desk that can come to life.

Oona is a young feminist, a rebel against the unquestioned male authority that governs Dark Street. She supports the first female candidate for the Dark Street Council; she isn’t afraid to take the lead in a budding romance with a young librarian apprenticing to become an expert in magical law. She’s also a detective, determined to find her father’s killer and to outdo Inspector White, who took over her father’s post as head of Dark Street Police after her father’s murder.

We live in a literary age with a multitude of wizards, but Oona is a delightful, original addition to the bunch. Instead of a wand, she uses her father’s magnifying glass. Her history tutor is a talking raven named Deacon. When you need a bit of magic, Oona’s just the girl to turn to—regardless of the age you are.


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