This is the astonishing testimonial of Whit and Wisty Allgood, a brother and sister who were torn from their family in the middle of the night, slammed into prison, and accused of being a witch and wizard.
They are not alone in their terrifying predicament. Thousands of young people have been kidnapped; some have been accused; many others remain missing. Their fate is unknown, and the worse is feared - for the ruling regime will stop at nothing to suppress life and liberty, music and books, art and magic.
Most copies of this story have already been seized, shredded, or burned. Read this rare surviving edition and pass it along with care - before it's too late.
Witch & Wizard looked to me like it was being marketed to both the adult and teenage markets. As a result, and from reading the back blurb, I assumed that what I would be reading was a dystopian, supernatural adventure that would probably be comfortably labelled as Young Adult. Instead what I got was a novel that was simplistic and in many ways childish and riddled with clichés. The simplicity of both the language level and the plot is underlined by the fact that I finished all 305 pages in scarcely four hours despite the fact that I was grudgingly forcing myself to continue.
Now, I had forgotten that I had once loved Gabrielle Charbonnet's Princess series, which was her take on the classic A Little Princess, but I was only around six or seven years old at the time. However, Kathleen Duey (author of Skin Hunger) is a prime example of how an author established in writing children's books can successfully produce dark and gritty works for a young adult audience, so why not Charbonnet? Admittedly, I had never before read anything by James Patterson, but working in a library I am quite aware of the popularity of his books and just how many he has under his belt. As a result I had high expectations for Witch & Wizard but was severely disappointed,
The chapters in Witch & Wizard are very short and unnecessarily so. A scene might be spread over three chapters when it would have read fine as one and as a result the chapter breaks only disrupt the flow of reading. The perspective alternates back and forth between Whit and Wisty, which fails to achieve a whole lot as they are side by side for most of the book and there is little differentiation between their voices. Supposedly, Wisty is fifteen and Whit on the verge of turning eighteen but their attitude and language is so childish you would peg them to be younger. The dialogue is just so forced and cliché. The stereotypes when it comes to the bad guys are just awful, including ugly=evil.
Wisty, especially, is well and truly on a fast track to becoming quite the Mary Sue. Not only is she the one that pulls out all of the big magic tricks but her hair even magically changes into a colour and style that she likes much better than her previously frizzy red. Her eyes even temporarily change colour at one point. The authors were so busy super-charging Wisty that they forgot for awhile that Whit was supposed to have powers to so it was rather strange for him to be talking about his powers and himself being a wizard for ages before he ever even demonstrated any special ability.
Speaking of their powers and Mary Sue and Gary Stu like tendencies, it was really annoying how their magical abilities just suddenly switched on the night that they are taken from their homes. They have never once in their lives done anything to make them think that they could do magic and suddenly, without cause or explanation except that it is convenient to the plot, their powers just activate and they are instantly incredibly powerful and dangerous, even without being able to control their magic. It was also very annoying how Patterson and Charbonnet are among those authors who did not do the research about the religion and seem to think that "Wiccan" is just a New Age-y term for witch and then decided to give that label at least to Whit and Wisty's parents if not indicating that it is a term they may apply to all witches and wizards. I would have to read the (unfortunately) upcoming sequel to find out just how far they are going to run with the term.
Adults (even eighteen-year-old Whit uses the more childish phrase of "grown-ups") are suddenly all bad guys without any real explanation as to why but apparently it is decided that kids (because all the main characters are teens with the supposed maturity to possess strong survival and leadership skills but prefer to be referred to as "kids") should rise up against the new totalitarian regime and become the new rulers of the world because apparently they could do a better job. At this point the novel has officially crossed into the territory of cheaply produced mid-afternoon children shows about the "if their were no adults and children were in charge" scenario. No adult faction of the rebellion is even mentioned let alone stands up to take care of the rogue children. The evil New Order seized power through political means so I guess we are supposed to believe that adults were dumb enough to vote for policies that involved the oppression of everyone, the destruction of their homes, and the torture and execution of even children through cruel and old fashioned means. As most of the book is about the siblings being stuck in a cell and then escaping, we never get to see enough of the rest of society to understand why this would be accepted by everyone and what frightening catalyst would trigger people to allow such a government to come into power.
This book tries far too hard to be Harry Potter. One antagonist is clearly their version of Draco Malfoy and is even described as being "ferret faced" at one point but in the end they settle for calling him a weasel... and then proceed to turn him into one. Meanwhile, the big bad guy, "The One Who Is The One", seems like a poor attempt at coming up with a title for their looming and nameless evil to rival "He Who Must Not Be Named" and also pales as a villain in contrast. Furthermore, the "Speak love, you may enter" riddle just seems ripped straight out of Lord of the Rings. "Speak friend and enter," anyone?
This book may have been better if it had been targeted at a younger audience. As it currently stands it was pretty poor and I strongly recommend that you give it a skip.