by J. David Clarke
The Wizard in My Window by J. David Clarke is slightly outside of my normal fare for reading. There are a lot of people who live and breathe YA (Young Adult), particular YA Fantasy. I am not one of those people. I feel it takes a lot to stand out in such a saturated genre. Now that I've given my disclaimer, let me begin by saying that The Wizard in My Window does indeed stand out.
The short novel/long novella follows the Collier Family as they move into their new home. While his elder 15-year-old sister Nicole is too busy in her world of teenage angst, Timothy claims the upstairs room with a peculiar mark in the window. That mark is, you guessed it, in the shape of a wizard. It doesn't take much time at all before a magical spell book called the Magus Liber appears followed my a new relic each day. As the kids learn what these artifacts are capable of (and begin playing with them in properly reckless youth fashion), ancient beings are drawn to its power.
Where this book excels is in its narrative. It is refreshingly nonlinear and takes a couple of unexpected sharp turns during the adventure. One of my personal pet peeves with the YA fantasy genre is its overuse of the coming-of-age template. I was happy to see Clarke exercised some real creativity in breaking this mold. I was happy to say at about three-quarters of the way through, that I couldn't tell exactly where the story would end up. The main characters in this story are also very well defined, and Clarke did a good job giving each Collier (even the baby) a distinct personality.
The Wizard in My Window could use a little improvement, in my opinion, with character dialogue. Sometimes what the characters have to say is somewhat pedestrian, perhaps bordering on corny. This is most noticeable, I think, with the book's villains. My second issue has to deal with the way the characters expressed emotion. Sometimes characters yell in ALL CAPS or with multiple exclamation marks. This is particularly true from Nicole. I found it to be somewhat distracting.
Overall, The Wizard in My Window is an entertaining, fast read. It's a good choice for young adults and big adults alike.