"In the Urwald, you grow up fast or you don't grow up at all." You also never stray from the path, but when Jinx's stepfather Bergthold does just that, even at a tender age of six, Jinx knows something is wrong. Jinx thinks that he is about to be killed but Bergthold has decided instead to abandon him. This may be even worse because there are equally horrible things in the woods. While forging along the path, Bergthold and Jinx come upon Simon, a wizard who offers to buy Jinx. Bergthold is a greedy man and tries to barter for more money. Suddenly a troll appears and carries Bergthold away. Jinx and Simon are protected by a concealment spell but Jinx still fears that this wizard could be evil. Simon offers Jinx a place at his home cleaning and keeping things organized. Unsure whether Simon is trustworthy or not but left with very few other options, Jinx accepts. Jinx begins to learn more about the Urwald and also what Simon's intentions are with him. " But in the Urwald, a little healthy fear is never out of place, for magic—and magicians—can be as dangerous as the forest, and soon Jinx must decide which is the greater threat."
Sage Blackwood introduces characters into the story slowly. Partly to give time for the reader to get immersed in the characters of Jinx and Simon and their relationship. In these early chapters, you get a chance to care about Jinx. He's only six and is growing up with a wizard who often is cranky and as a reader we are never sure of what Simon intends to do with Jinx. With the addition of new characters more questions arise. Why can't Jinx read Dame Glamer's thoughts. Where did Simon's wife come from? Why is she so curious about how Jinx came to Simon's employ? Rather then tell us all of these answers, Sage Blackwood instead reveals it through actions, emotions and colors that Jinx sees as clouds of color above the characters heads. The first part of the story is therefore somewhat shrouded in mystery, but once Jinx's magic is stolen, the plot changes to an adventure/quest to regain his abilities. The pace picks up as Jinx encounters new people along the path (Elfwyn and Reven) each who adds new layers to the story. Jinx's magical abilities actually grow as he is forced to adapt by reading peoples facial features and body language to interpret their intentions. I really liked Jinx, the battle between Simon and the Bonemaster over something that each stole from one another was reminiscent of a Wizard's duel with poor Jinx stuck in the middle. The addition of Elwyn and Reven and their own curse made for some entertaining dialogue. Overall a fun story with wonderful characterization and some nice messaging about growing up and realizing our own strengths. Copy reviewed was from the Library.