If ever anyone asks you what exactly is the point of a site like Goodreads, do please direct them to this review. A few months ago, I read the first in this series, 'So You Want To Be A Wizard', and although I liked it, I had no great desire to read any more in the sequence. But when I posted this in my Goodreads review, a friend begged me to carry on, because this, the second book in the series, was one of her all time favourite books. So I took her advice, and you know what? I love it too. It's astonishing how many wonderful stories I've found through Goodreads - not just friends' recommendations, but other reviews, discussion groups or simply surfing around, following links from book to book to author to book... It's an invaluable resource for readers.
This is a children's (or perhaps more properly a young adult) book, the second of a long series, but it's also an excellent read for adults. I am several decades above the intended demographic, but I absolutely loved it. The first half of the book is a fairly straightforward tale of two kids, Nita and Kit, learning to enjoy their newfound powers of wizardry, while avoiding Nita's pesky younger sister and trying not to be caught out by her parents. There's a sprinkling of politically correct ecology (pollution is bad, children), plus some swimming with dolphins and whales and such like fluff.
But then, about half way through, the story transforms into something deeper, darker and much more interesting. Suddenly it's about love and death, and willing sacrifice, and keeping your word no matter the cost. Oh, and a little about the innateness (or not) of male aggression. Which was unexpected. Even though you know, of course, that Nita and Kit will be fine (since the series goes on and on) and even I saw what had to happen to make things come out right, it was still exciting and scary and very moving. I cried, a lot, and that's embarrassing at my age (and I was on a train, too). Not sure what teenage (or younger) readers would make of it, but I thought it was terrific. A good 4 stars. [First written August 2011]