My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Several friends suggested I read this series. I missed it when I was a kid, mostly because I was determined to be ‘adult’ then and never read YA stuff (figures now that’s half of what I read). I’m sure there will be a lot of Harry Potter comparisons but this was written in the 70’s and published in the early 1980’s and oddly enough, it hasn’t aged badly at all. Other than the lack of cell phones/computers, that is.
I’ll admit, it was pretty slow getting started and it took me a while to warm up to the two characters. Nita is a young girl who is beaten badly on a near daily basis by a group of bullying girls, often coming home with her face and joints swollen because she won’t fight back. Hiding out in the library she runs across the titular book and takes it home.
Unlike Harry Potter where kids with wizarding power get swept away to cool boarding schools, the child wizard here is DYI. There is almost no supervision at all as Nita begins to read her book and she lucks into meeting Kit who is a couple years younger than her at twelve. He, too, faces bullies because he’s advanced scholastically and he has a Hispanic accent. He’s further along with the wizarding and together they manage to get into a bit of trouble, accidentally peeking in on a NYC that is dark and terrifying.
When they get back home, they’ve accidentally dragged along a sentient white hole they dub Fred. They take him to meet the advisors, two guys living in town which are about the only adults we see. They give Kit and Nita some ideas on how to deal with Fred’s problems but something goes terribly wrong and they end up in the dark dimension with the evil wizard who not only has the Book that Can’t Be Named but also the good wizardry book.
They not only have to get back home somehow, in a land where vehicles are carnivorous, they also want to rescue the book.
Once it gets going, the action is good and Nita and Kit are strong characters, though it’s a bit unusual to think of so much power just given out to kids with no training other than what they provide themselves. (perhaps that’s a sign of the times this was written in). While it is a stand alone story, there are some loose threads. I’ll have to look up the rest of the series.
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