So You Want To Be A Wizard? by Diane Duane

Posted October 13, 2020 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments

So You Want to Be a Wizard

So You Want to Be a Wizard

by Diane Duane

Series: Young Wizards #1
Publisher: Harcourt on January 1, 1983
Genre: Fantasy, Magic, Urban Fantasy
Target Age Group: Middle Grade, Young Adult
Rating: ★★★★

Check out this book on Goodreads

Nita Callahan is at the end of her rope because of the bullies who've been hounding her at school... until she discovers a mysterious library book that promises her the chance to become a wizard. But she has no idea of the difference that taking the Wizard's Oath is going to make in her life. Shortly, in company with fellow beginner-wizard Kit Rodriguez, Nita's catapulted into what will be the adventure of a lifetime—if she and Kit can both live through it. For every wizard's career starts with an Ordeal in which he or she must challenge the one power in the universe that hates wizardry more than anything else: the Lone Power that invented death and turned it loose in the worlds. Plunged into a dark and deadly alternate New York full of the Lone One's creatures, Kit and Nita must venture into the very heart of darkness to find the stolen, legendary Book of Night with Moon. Only with the dangerous power of the wizardly Book do they have a chance to save not just their own lives, but their world...


I always forget how much I like this series?  I think I’ve read So You Want To Be A Wizard three times over the years… and even though I have Deep Wizardry, I haven’t read it yet – oops!  It’s definitely not a reflection on Diane Duane, though.  This is a charming little book and I like so much.

Even though So You Want To Be a Wizard is older YA (and reads younger) it’s still very accessible to adults and I appreciate that the characters behave appropriate their age group.  I just adore Nita and Kit and of course Fred who is delightful.  Even my skeptical husband was chuckling at poor Fred and its… emissions.  This is such a good start to a long series (ten books) because it starts at a very manageable level and has so much creativity and potential.  There’s the spirit of Jim Bucher and Ursula K. Le Guin and Madeleine L’Engle in these pages, and I love it.

When it comes to fantasy, I watch the magical systems very closely.  How do things work?  What are the consequences?  Is it too powerful?  Does the magic in the book follow the rules set in world building?  So You Want To Be a Wizard is a great example of good, uncomplicated magic.  Thing go wrong (spells should go wrong sometimes!) and Nita and Kit have a guide to get them through the magic.  They each have inherent specialties and even though there are some info drops, it fits really well in the story.  This system also leaves a lot of room for growth and I like that, too.

If I were criticizing from personal opinion, I felt that the heroes got away with things a bit too easily.  They rolled well on their luck stats, I guess.  You know those stories where everything feels very calculated and it breaks up the flow a little because OF COURSE that happened exactly like so, etc. etc.?  So You Want To Be a Wizard is like that sometimes.  But in this book… I don’t know.  It’s okay, I think.  From a technical standpoint, the plot could be more complex, but I don’t think the plots simple exactly.  I think it’s age-appropriate.  The stakes for the individual heroes are appropriate in the space and time they’re in.  Maybe these things change as the books continue, but they feel right for these two.  And it’s okay.  I’m happy to take them as they are.

Overall, if you’re look for a book about learning magic in the real world, this is a great one.  One of my favorite fantasy book styles is “there’s magic all around us, we just don’t know it” and So You Want To Be a Wizard has that in spades.  Between that, a steady (if slightly simple) plot, and really likable characters all around, this is a delightful light read for an afternoon.  And a great replacement if you’re looking for a long-running series about a couple magical kids.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★★
Plot: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Writing: ★★★★★
Pacing: ★★★ 1/2
Narrator: ★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★★

4 Star Rating


Do you enjoy long-running fantasy series?  Or are you more of a standalone trilogy person.  For me, it depends on the story!  Tell me your preference in the comments!

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