Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Twelve-year-old Lennie Mercado loves magic. She practices her invisibility powers all the time (she can now stay invisible for fifteen seconds!), and she dreams of the day that she can visit her grandfather, the Prime Wizard de Pomporromp, at his magical estate.
Now Lennie has her chance. Poppop has decided to retire, and his grandchildren are coming from all over to compete in Wizardmatch. The winner inherits his title, his castle, and every single one of his unlimited magical powers. The losers get nothing. Lennie is desperate to win, but when Poppop creates a new rule to quelch any sibling rivalry, her thoughts turn from winning Wizardmatch to sabotaging it…even if it means betraying her family.
If you’ve read my reviews of The Only Thing Worse Than Witches and Pilfer Academy, you’ll know that Lauren Magaziner writes quirky, imaginative middle grade that takes readers to places it often seems like anything is possible. Wizardmatch features Magaziner’s trademark imagination and sense of humor, featuring things like a pudding pool and a stuffy talking cat. However, it’s also a bit more serious than her previous work, exploring things like ambition, familial favoritism, and sexism.
The plot will be appealing to fans of witch stories like Which Witch? or Wizards of Waverly Place, since the protagonists must compete in a magic competition in order to determine who will become the family’s heir and inherit more magical powers than they can imagine. The first twist? Each character has only one magical ability, which they must use creatively in order to complete a varied array of tasks. There’s no waving of magic wands to get options here; if your magical ability is that you can change the color of your hair at will, you’d better find a way to make that useful. Watching the characters use their abilities in unexpected ways is a large part of the fun of the book.
But not everything is fun and games. When Lennie begins to suspect that her grandfather only wants a boy to inherit and other family members are too afraid to call him out on it, she begins to take matters into her own hands to attempt to get some justice. The result is a timely story that will have readers question what they would do in such a situation and whether they would have the courage to speak out.
Wizardmatch is a great combination of entertaining magic and tough questions that will keep readers on the edges of their seats as they wait to find out what will happen next.
Disclaimer: I know the author.