Friday, August 30, 2013

Jinx by Sage Blackwood

Image from
Harper, 2013

The Urwald is the only place Jinx has ever known. Dark and mysterious, the tall trees of the Urwald are home to menacing werewolves, werebears and trolls, devious witches, and sinister wizards. Even as a young boy, Jinx knows about the Truce of the Path: You are protected as long as you remain on the path. But one day his cruel stepfather takes Jinx off the path, intending to leave him to fend for himself. Just as Jinx is about to give up hope he’s saved by Simon, a cranky, yellow-eyed wizard. At first Jinx is intimidated by the cantankerous wizard, but as the years pass he learns more than just magic from Simon. Although he is kept safe and well-fed, Jinx longs to explore the world beyond the Urwald and so he sets out on a quest. Accompanied by the charming thief Reven and brutally honest Elfwyn, Jinx’s life-changing journey takes him from the safety of Simon’s castle to ominous Bonesocket, home to the evil, bloodthirsty Bonemaster. Who is good and who is evil? Who is honest and who is deceitful? As Jinx’s story unravels he finds the truth isn’t exactly what he imagined.

This gripping fantasy is written in third person from Jinx’s point of view. Blackwood expertly builds a rich world, allowing the Urwald to unfold through dialogue and narration. This keeps the focus on propelling the story ever forward, rather than pausing to step outside a character to describe elements. The characters are well-rounded and multi-dimensional. Each character has flaws and strengths, which adds a touch of realism to this magical story. The plot has as many twists and turns as a path through the Urwald. Subtle foreshadowing leads to several surprising revelations. Although the ending resolves the major conflict, it also unearths information that complicates other aspects of Jinx’s life and sets the three children off on another journey. The ending is an obvious set up for a series of books, leaving the reader wondering what will happen next.  

Read the first chapter of the book and find yourself intrigued by the dangerous and magical Urwald.

*Jinx has the ability to see other people’s emotions in colorful clouds of fog. If you could see emotions, what would they look like? Describe the color, shape, size, smell, etc.

*In the story Jinx finds out there is a “Terror” that is threatening the trees of the Urwald. Use this as a nonfiction connection by discussing or reading books about threatened forests and other natural areas.

*Check out the short discussion guide from HarperCollins.

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles series by Patricia C. Wrede
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
The Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage
The World of Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne Jones

Age 9+ / Grade 4+


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