Book Review: Witch and Wizard

Whitford and Wisteria Allgood had a normal life– until the army came to arrest them in the middle of the night.  The siblings are accused of being a witch and wizard– which Wisty proves on the spot when she bursts into flame without burning herself.  They are then tossed into prison, put on trial with no lawyer, and condemned to prison until they turn eighteen, at which time they will be disposed of.

In prison, Whit and Wisty learn that the New Order, a political group bent on taking over the world, is arresting tons of people who, like the Allgoods, are suspected of having dangerous magical powers.  Though they are understandable horrified by this, it’s only when Whit’s dead girlfriend rescues them from prison that they truly understand the magnitude of the New Order’s domination and their role in defeating it.

I have nothing against James Patterson; in fact, I view him as a superb thriller writer.  That said, there’s a distinct lack of thrill in this thriller. However, there are good points, too:  The setting is so detailed that you can feel the utter starkness of the prison and the irony of the model town of the New Order.  Also, the prologue is unparalleled.  Sadly, these few successes don’t make up for the many failures, as follows:

Witch and Wizard was a good idea with poor follow-through.  The prologue was suspenseful and promised much excitement and adventure– which didn’t happen, considering that Whit and Wisty are in prison wondering how to escape for two-thirds of the story.  The rest of the plot is slow-moving, distracted, and downright boring until the last third of the book, when Wisty and Whit join a resistance movement.  Then, just when things are getting interesting, the book abruptly ends with a weak cliffhanger that is basically a repitition of the prologue.

The characterizations leave something to be desired.  Whit and Wisty are just your standard sarcastic teenagers with too many powers and few visible flaws.  For example: even though Wisty says she’s afraid of heights, she shows very little fear when she walks acrass a rope hung several stories up.  In fact, major emotion in the main characters is very rare:  It appears when Whit find out his beloved girlfriend is a ghost, when Wisty is afraid Whit is going to be killed, and when Whit watches Wisty head into danger alone.  As for the villains, they are also sub-standard with bad, cliche dialoge and little reason for being evil besides being psychotic and/or brainwashing.

Which brings us to the actual writing:  I’m sure you’ve heard the writerly phrase “Show, don’t tell”.  Well, it was completely ignored.  Any statment that should have had the reader either rooting for or fearing for Wisty and Whit had about the same amount of excitement as making useless small talk.  What more is there to say?

Overall, this is a “borrow, don’t buy” situation.  If you really want to read Witch and Wizard, borrow it from the library or from a friend.  If after reading it you still want it to grace your bookshelf, who am I to stop you?  And if that cliffhanger has you itching to find out what happens next, the sequel is Witch and Wizard: The Gift.  There’s also a companion book out, too: Witch and Wizard: Battle for Shadowland.  Happy reading!

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