The Wizor Fair
by Robert A.G. Erickson
BookVenture Publishing

"With all of her will, she fought against the crushing blackness of her prison until it retreated and the heaviness lifted."

For twins Lenny and Cassy, the first week of summer vacation after graduating from the eighth grade has not exactly been overflowing with excitement. But after settling in with popcorn and sodas to watch a monster movie on TV, they receive the shock of their lives when a young man suddenly materializes on the floor of Lenny's bedroom. The intruder, a Wizor named Skeldon, has journeyed across worlds and from the Kingdom of Duscany in search of magic to use in the upcoming Wizor Fair, an event which could lead him from being the mistreated apprentice of an abusive master to become Wizor to Scapita, the King's sorcerer. However, what he and the twins will soon experience together will far exceed both his ambitions and their wildest dreams.

Erickson's enchanting fantasy catapults the reader into a magical world of pixie-like whelfs, conniving sorcerers, and a mysterious race of beings who spend the day in one world and the night in another. It is also a land fraught with danger. Shadow wolves have begun to appear and attack the unwary, an unscrupulous magic user seeks to take revenge on his enemies and change his political fortunes, and an evil power is rising from the fen that threatens to plunge the world into darkness. Against such perils, what can an untrained Wizor, a pair of uprooted twins, and a motley crew of young people hope to achieve?

The answer, of course, is plenty. In typical fantasy fashion, the author's story uses extreme adversity to bring out hidden talents and personal strengths in characters who would under normal circumstances never be considered anything but ordinary. J.R.R. Tolkien did something similar in his Lord of the Rings trilogy, using a group of young and untested hobbits to help save Middle Earth from the hordes of Sauron. Like Tolkien's hobbits, Erickson's teens rise to the occasion when needed, even at the risk of their lives. His protagonists share traits of other genre celebrities, as well. For example, Skeldon is like Harry Potter in his humble beginnings and eventual ascent into greatness among his peers in wizardry. Cassy, meanwhile, resembles in some ways Canadian writer Charles de Lint's Sara Kendell from Moonheart, the novel that launched his career. Like Sara, Cassy truly comes into her own in an alternate world, and her epic battle with Night Shadow has echoes of the one Sara faces with Mal'ek'a.

Obviously, powerful characters like these speak to most of us on some level, even though we know we can never achieve such abilities in real life. Perhaps that is why Lenny comes across as so appealing. He has a modest talent with the flute, but unlike his sister or Skeldon, he does not have any magical skills. But what Lenny does have is a strong moral compass, a heart filled with compassion, and the desire to bless the lives of almost everyone he encounters. Understandably, others are drawn to him because of these traits, and out of all of Erickson's characters, he is arguably the most sympathetic.

Clearly designed to target young adults, the author's book is well-paced and enjoyable from start to finish. The speed with which the various couples come together in the plot is a little unbelievable, but, then again, Romeo and Juliet weren't that slow to hit it off either. Overall, the biggest "fault" in Erickson's tale is that we become so close to his characters that we don't want their story to end, a problem his fantasy shares with other popular works of fiction and one that is really not that bad to have.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Return to USR Home