Author: Sage Blackwood
Jinx has been told all his life about the dangers in the forest in Urwald. Both his parents died from the things in the forest. And life is too hard for his stepparents to want another mouth to feed. But when his stepfather tries to abandon him in the woods, Jinx meets Simon, a wizard, and ends up going home with him. Simon is a hard man and probably evil (at least a little), but Jinx is reasonably happy there. But trouble is always around the corner in Urwald. . .
This is a fun read with a rather morbid sense of humor, which is evident from the very beginning with lines like these only a few pages in:
“I didn’t marry the mother,” said Bergthold, aggrievated. “She died years ago. I married the woman who was married to the man who had married the mother. The boy’s got a curse on him—everyone who takes him dies.”
“Actually, that seems like a fairly normal death rate for the Urwald.”
Jinx himself is an interesting character. His ability to see the shapes of people’s thoughts never seems odd to him as he assumes everyone else is the same way. And he’s got a habit of listening: to the trees, to books, to people. Though Simon’s house is a much better life than the one he was born to, living with a wizard has hazards of its own.
The Urwald is a place with its own kind of character, one that Jinx explores and will hopefully continue to explore in books to come. It’s a dark, ancient forest filled with trolls, werewolves, vampires, and assorted nasties, but it’s home to Jinx, and he loves the trees.
Reven was frustrating, a bit. His curse stops him from giving any useful information about himself, but even beyond that he’s a hard person to know, as he keeps changing (and what there is to know makes me wish Jinx could punch him). Though he did seem to be more of a friend to Jinx by the end.
I was also a bit annoyed by how easily the Bonemaster was handled. It just seemed bizarre that the Bonemaster wouldn’t have extra precautions around that door which would let him know whenever it was opened, much less some kind of alarm which would tell him when his bottles were disturbed. Even granting a lot of his reputation may have been hype, he certainly had both power and paranoia in plenty.
Overall, though, this was an engaging story in an interesting world. I rate this book Recommended.