Pretty much everything here originally appeared at my actual blog: By Singing Light. I particularly focus on upper middle-grade and young adult books. I also enjoy adult genre books, especially speculative fiction.
Jinx was one of my favorite books last year, and I was really glad to find out that a sequel was being published. I read an eARC via Edelweiss and then forgot to pre-order the final version–a mistake which has now been fixed!
Sometimes when you really, really love the first book in a series, the second book is very nervous-making. What if it’s just not as good? Then, not only do you not love the sequel, the first book is usually tinged with this sad feeling of lost potential (see: Mira Grant’s Feed). Happily, Blackwood does not fall into this trap. Jinx’s Magic is just as lovely as Jinx. (I should mention, in the interests of disclosure, that I chat with Sage Blackwood on Twitter sometimes and she seems like a lovely person. But her books are excellent regardless.) So, here are the reasons I loved this book.
1. Jinx. He’s far from perfect–sometimes arrogant, sometimes prickly, sometimes unable to see other people clearly. But he’s also curious and kind, and he tries really hard to do the right thing. He’s growing up more in this book, which is both painful and delightful to read.
2. Everyone else. I wanted more Simon, because I am fretting about Things Which Occur, and because I miss the bracing effect he has on the other characters. And of course there’s Reven, who is somewhat distressing at this point. But I loved Elfwyn, and I really liked the way she is learning to use her curse.
3. The settings. The Urwald continues to be wonderful, but Keyland and Samara have their own texture. I liked that Jinx thinks quite a bit about the differences between the countries and how people who live there tend to think. He’s running up against the limits of his own experience and learning that there are other ways of living.
4. Malthus. I really enjoyed how he is both quite profound and at the same time a bit scary, and also a bit funny. Like here: “‘Death isn’t evil,’ said Malthus. ‘Life doesn’t end in evil. Many people end their lives as delicious meals for werewolves.’”
5. Jinx’s magic. It’s right there in the title, but I really liked the way the story plays with Jinx’s relationship to his magic. It’s part of him, but it’s not all of him, and he isn’t always able to do what he wants with it.
6. The themes from the first book continue to play out. How do you know who to trust, and who to listen to? Especially when you’re not sure how true your own perceptions are. This is important for Jinx’s ability to see people’s feelings–is he seeing them, or is he seeing their feelings filtered through his own?
7. The theme and images of balance. Urwald magic vs. KnIP. Jinx vs. the Bonemaster. Book smarts (Jinx) vs. life smarts (Wendell). It’s an important thread in this book, and it turns up in interesting places.
The only complaint I have is that the ending seemed a bit abrupt. It’s not a cliffhanger, exactly, but things aren’t completely wrapped up either. Next book, please!
Book source: eARC from Edelweiss; purchased
Book information: HarperCollins, 2014; middle grade fantasy