Monday, August 18, 2008

The Sign of the Sinister Sorcerer-Brad Strickland

The Sign of the Sinister Sorcerer
Brad Strickland
Dial, Oct 2008, $16.99
ISBN: 9780803731516

In the mid 1950s in New Zebedec, Michigan young orphan Lewis Barnavelt lives with his Uncle Jonathan, a wizard who can perform illusions. Recently, Lewis has become interested in information pertaining to the magical Rule of Three that his Uncle claims is an obsolete theory, but next door neighbor the powerful witch (and great cook) Mrs. Zimmerman insists some mages believed in threesomes to embellish exponentially the power.

While watching his friends play baseball, Lewis is distracted by newcomer Hal Everit when his best friend Rose Rita Pottinger warns him to watch out; a foul ball hits him in the face. Just before it struck him, Lewis noticed a hooded robed individual watching him. Although he suffers two black eyes, overall Lewis is okay. A few days later, Jonathan gives him his allowance of five silver dollars, but on his way to the movies with Rose Rita and joined at the theater by Hal, he realizes he lost his money due to a hole in his pocket. The next morning, he smells Mrs. Zimmerman cooking breakfast so he runs down the steps, but trips and injures his leg. Lewis thinks a powerful wizard is trying to harm him; as he believes he suffered an attack based on the Rule of Three. Jonathan thinks otherwise and besides the trio of assaults already occurred; but he soon revises his opinion based on a message in a mirror; he believes he and his nephew are under magical siege and he thinks he knows who the culprit is.

This is an entertaining middle school historical thriller with some fantasy and suspense elements enhancing the tale. Young readers will enjoy Lewis’ summer vacation as he begins to believe THE SIGN OF THE SINISTER SORCERER has him under siege.

Harriet Klausner