If you've followed Literate Lives for any amount of time, you know that fantasy is not my genre of choice. I struggle with it and, unfortunately, I've probably failed a lot of students because I have a hard time with it. That's why it's good for me to use lists like the ALSC Notable Book Nominees. It forces me to read things out of my comfort zone. Jinx by Sage Blackwood...definitely out of my comfort zone.
I'm ok when it comes to simple fantasy, the stories without a lot of strange characters and stories that don't get too complicated with dark powers and living powers and which are the most powerful power sources. Jinx is not simple fantasy.
Jinx comes from the Urwald, a land of trees that is inhabited by all sorts of bad things like trolls, ogres and werewolves...oh my! If you stay on the path and don't wander off into the dark woods, you are protected by the truce of the path, nothing can attack you if you stay on the path. When his step parents decide they can no longer afford to keep him, Jinx is taken out with the plan of abandoning him in the woods. The plan is foiled by a wizard who takes him in and some trolls who run off with his step father.
Jinx becomes the servant and apprentice to Simon, a wizard who may or may not be good. Simon is a bit of a mysterious character who seems to have a foot in two worlds, the world of magic and the world of his wife where magic is illegal. Jinx does some spying work and tries to figure it all out. After Simon uses Jinx for some experimental magic, Jinx realizes he must leave and explore what is beyond Simon's home and possibly beyond the Urwald.
He starts out on his quest and meets up with two more characters who are cursed, Reven and Elfwyn. Reven is a real mystery man and can't answer any questions about his background. Elfwyn, on the other hand, is the daughter of a witch who must tell the truth when she is asked anything. They all end up in the home of the evil Bonemaster the most powerful wizard in the story. After a daring escape the three return home to Simon's and plan their next adventure which sets up the next book from the Urwald, Jinx's Magic coming in 2014.
As I've said, I'm not a fantasy guy but a lot of kids are. This book is very well written, the language Sage Blackwood uses is magical, which is what you want in a fantasy story. It is also written at a level that will be accessible by my better fifth grade readers, but I'll caution them that they need to be serious fantasy readers.