Reviewed November 18, 2014.
Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins), 2014. 389 pages.
2014 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #7 Children's Fiction
In Jinx's Magic we learn more about the boy who lives in a viciously magic forest and can see people's feelings.
You’re going to want to read Jinx before you read this one, and you’re definitely going to want to read what comes after. My biggest complaint against this book is that not many plot threads get tied up, and danger is looming from many different directions. I prefer trilogies where each book feels like part of the story has finished. However, I enjoyed this one so much, I almost didn’t notice that it doesn’t fit my preferred style.
I love Jinx’s world. Jinx is a Listener; he can hear what the trees have to say. And he can see people’s thoughts and feelings – in the form of colors and shapes. I like the way it’s hard to tell if certain individuals are good or bad – there are levels of gray here, exactly like real life. And sometimes characters I thought were good turn out to be doing some not-so-good things.
Danger is lurking from many different directions. Why does the forest call Reven “The Terror”? Why will no one help Simon make sure the Bonemaster is secure? And who killed an entire clearing full of people? And when Jinx goes to Samara to find an important book for Simon, why will no one even acknowledge Sophie’s existence? What happened to her? And people are cutting down the Urwald! Can Jinx find anyone to help stop them?
Here's how the book begins:
It wasn't that Jinx didn't like people. It was just that sometimes he had to get away from them.
He was no sooner out of earshot of the campfire, breathing in the deep, green strength of the forest, than he heard a single tree's voice.
Stuck. Trapped. All is lost.
Jinx hurried through the underbrush, weaving around great moss-covered trees and stumbling over roots.
The cries came from a beech sapling. A mighty pine had fallen, crushing the beech to the ground.
Jinx grabbed the sapling and yanked, but couldn't free it. He could hear it murmuring its despair. You waited and waited for a chance like this, for a big tree to fall so that you could grow toward the sunlight, and then this happened. It was hard to be young in the Urwald.
Jinx wrapped his arms around the rough, pitch-splattered pine trunk and tried to move it. He couldn't shift it an inch.
Oh. Right. He was a magician.
Jinx drew the Urwald's lifeforce power up through his feet. He levitated the fallen pine a few inches.
Free! Free! said the sapling. Sunlight!
It swept upward, its leaves brushing Jinx's face.
Jinx was feeling a sense of accomplishment -- the tree might someday grow as tall and stout as the giants around it, thanks to him -- when he suddenly sensed a deep golden hunger nearby. He turned his head slightly to the left . . . and was eye to eye with a werewolf.
It is true that in this book there are a confusing number of different kinds of magic. However, the book is all about Jinx learning about his and other's magic, and it works. The rules of each different kind of magic seem to be self-consistent.
Still, my only serious complaint against this book is that the next book can’t come quickly enough for me. I enjoyed every minute I spent in Jinx’s world.