In the second half of the sixth chapter of So You Want to Be a Wizard, I am fully expecting the rest of this series to steamroll me. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
This. This is the book I am reading. This is happening. I must accept it. I accept it.
Holy shit, y’all.
I went into the second half of this chapter certain that deep within the MTA system, Nita and Kit and Fred would come across yet another sentient vehicle, this time some sort of murderous train car that would chase them away from the Book. Honestly, I thought that was where Duane was leading. It’s not exactly a nonsensical theory, you know? IT MADE SENSE TO ME.
Pale splotches of green-white radiance were splashed irregularly on walls and ceilings – firefungus, which the wizards’ manual said was the man food source of the subway’s smallest denizens, the dun mice and hidebehinds and skinwings. Nita shuddered at the thought and walked faster. Where there were hidebehinds, there would certainly be rats to eat them. And where there were rats, there would also be fireworms and thrastles…
Oh, okay, so. Yeah. OKAY. What the hell are any of those things? DON’T TELL ME. LIKE DON’T EVEN TELL ME WHAT THESE THINGS ARE. I should have known, y’all. I should have known that Diane Duane had just placed a giant neon sign, complete with a blinking arrow pointing down the subway tunnel. I should have known that this was her saying, “Hey, friend. Weird things are coming. Just heads up.”
I was not ready.
And lying atop the hoard, its claws clutched full of cheap costume jewelry, whispering hoarsely to itself in the Speech, was the dragon.
I’m going to back up a bit. A few chapters ago, I loved how Duane surprised me with the full introduction of Dark Manhattan. I figured that So You Want to Be a Wizard would track magic usage in a very realistic version of New York. Then, we’re pulled into a parallel universe, one where the familiar elements of Manhattan are twisted by the dark desires of the Destroyer. That eerie sense of deja vú helped make it all seem wrong, and then we met the horrible helicopter creature, and in one single instance, this book became something else. I love those moments in fiction. I love it when an author takes a reader on a journey that feels comforting or fun because part of it is recognizable, and I love when they fling the reader off a cliff because it makes sense in the story. (I am much less of a fan of twists and turns just for the sake of the shock. I’m looking squarely at you, Ryan Murphy.) I want you to know that I love this type of storytelling so much that I wrote a novel SPECIFICALLY SO I COULD DO IT TO ALL OF YOU. (And a brief, excited aside here: another editor/beta reader finished my book today, and her feedback made me cry with joy. As a writer, you don’t know if the thing you’re attempting will ever work for anyone, and I really wanted to surprise this specific person, and I did. Huzzah for that happening.)
I expected this story to go in a specific direction, and I was pleasantly surprised when Duane reminded me that there are many worlds in the Young Wizards universe. Why did I expect the elements of this book to remain in one? Instead, I’m given a dragon. Granted, it’s probably a fireworm-dragon, which sounds like it is from this world, but the beauty of this scene is that I can imagine. I can imagine that this line:
“He promissed, he ssaid he would leave me alone when I came here.“
can refer to the possibility that this dragon came into the Dark Manhattan world because of the Destroyer. What other creatures might there be? Had he willed this dragon to life with the other Book? Had he opened a worldgate and let it inside? Had he simply found it growing down in the subway, and he let it gather a hoard and keep growing? There are so many possibilities, and that’s what makes this such a cool twist. There’s so much more story to be told.
And even if we don’t see the Eldest again, I’m undeniably satisfied with this scene. While most of So You Want to Be a Wizard follows Nita and is seen through her eyes, I love that Duane gives Kit the chance to shine. This might be Nita’s story, but Kit still has development. I’ll say this as a Latinx, too: I adore that Kit is not Nita’s diverse sidekick. Too often, Latinx and Hispanic characters exist just to prop up the white hero. While I still love my headcanon that Nita is a brown girl adopted by white parents, I recognize that canonically, she’s most likely white. And Kit matters just as much as she does.
This book is older than I am, and sadly, so many writers still don’t know how to do this.
Anyway, back to Kit, who brilliantly figures out how to get the Book of Night with Moon from the Eldest: trade it for the dark Book AND a spell. Not just any spell, but –
Kit ignored her. “If you will take our book in trade for that one, we’ll work such a wizardry about this place that no thief will ever enter. You’ll be safe here for as long as you please. Or forever.”
You know why this is so amazing? Because it’s a spell that will help reduce the anxiety of an aging dragon. That’s right, Diane Duane wrote a dragon who is getting old and cannot remember how much of any single item there is in its hoard, and it causes them an intense anxiety. SO KIT SOLVES IT WHILE ALSO GETTING WHAT HE WANTS. Like??? How is this book real??? How do I get to read it along with all of you??? IS THIS THE UNIVERSE REWARDING ME FOR HAVING SLOGGED THROUGH THE FIFTY SHADES SERIES? Oh my god, it’s karmic balancing, I don’t care, I’m running with it.
Bless this book.
Diane Duane is still offering a massive discount on the first 9 books in the Young Wizards series just to this community, so please take advantage of this deal while you still can:
Mark Links Stuff
– I am now on Patreon!!! MANY SURPRISES ARE IN STORE FOR YOU IF YOU SUPPORT ME.
– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be Death Note and Neon Genesis Evangelion. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
– Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!