In the tenth part of Deep Wizardry, there is nothing in the world that could have prepared me for this. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
It’s hard to say that any one thing here is the “best” part of the tenth chapter of Deep Wizardry. This is a monumental work of fiction, both in how it upends a YA trope we’re all used to and in how it gives us one of the most emotionally powerful scenes I have ever read. And I do mean ever. Duane put something in this book that many of us have dreamed of doing, knowing that many of us wouldn’t ever be able to accomplish it.
But that’s the thread of realism that snakes through her work so far. The conversation that opens this chapter felt real. This is how parents would react to their child revealing that they were a wizard. First: anger. Quiet rage. The Callahans can’t even fathom how their own daughter thought it would be appropriate to craft an elaborate lie that is 100% unbelievable and stick to it instead of telling the truth. Because WHO WOULD HONESTLY BELIEVE THIS STORY. EVER. So their rage inspires the next believable moment.
Kit proves to them that he has magic.
Kit was suddenly sitting a little taller in the chair. And taller still, though he didn’t move a muscle. And taller – until Nita could see that Kit’s seat and the seat of the chair no longer had much to do with each other. He was hovering about two feet in the air.
Here’s what is so great about this. (Well, two things, actually.) I adore that the Callahans’s reaction is complete disbelief. Harry thinks that he’s being hypnotized, which is such a hilarious response because it’s like… aggressive denial??? Not only will Harry not believe what he’s seeing, but he’ll go as far as he can in the opposite direction, because it totally makes sense that a teenager can hypnotize two adults without talking.
But I also love it because of what it reveals about Kit. Kit is very irritated throughout most of this conversation, and it struck me as strange the first time around. Why would he be angry with Nita’s parents? They’d hid this entire reality from them, and Kit knew that her parents would be upset. Wouldn’t he want to do as much as possible to placate them? I was missing a piece of information, though. Later in the chapter, Kit angrily points out that Nita is actually trying to show her parents that she respects them and trusts them, which is why she told the truth. When the Callahans react with disbelief and anger, it infuriates him! Their denial is preventing them from seeing the truth about Nita.
Yet even this one demonstration isn’t enough for them, and neither is Kit’s beam-me-up-Scotty spell. So what do these kids do to prove to Nita’s parents that magic is real and they’re not lying?
They transport them to the Moon.
Look, I love Duane’s prose. She can alternate between straightforward narration to get a point across and the kind of poetic, flowing prose that we get when she narrates the Callahans’ trip to the Moon. To say her writing is gorgeous is an understatement; it’s functional, too, and when I get lost in the words, I still know exactly where I am and what’s going on. I could not stop my own eyes from stinging with tears once I realized where Nita and Kita had taken Harry and Betty.
But Nita’s mother was staring up at the sky with a look of joy so great it was pain – the completely bearable anguish of an impossible dream that suddenly comes true after years of hopeless yearning.
And that’s really what this would feel like. The dreams of space travel amount to hopeless yearning for nearly every human on Earth. The list of people who have seen the Earth from space is just a grain of sand on an infinite beach. Thus, the meaning of this act is more than just a demonstration of wizardry. It is Kit and Nita showing the Callahans of the immense beauty of what they do. It is the best way to demonstrate to them how important wizardry is. As Kit puts it:
“But because somebody’s got to take care of that. Not just part of it – not just one country, or one set of rules, or one species, at the expense of the others. But everything that lives, all the kinds of ‘people.’ All of it, with nothing left out. One whole planet. Somebody’s got to make sure it grows as well as it can. Or just survives. That’s what wizards do.”
For the record, this helped me understand why wizardry is so important, too. If the Universe is barreling towards Death, then maybe these wizards can slow that down. But I also thought it was fascinating that Duane revealed in this the fact that Nita and Kit had already traveled to the Moon. That might seem like a strange thing to reveal off the page, but it’s a smart choice. It makes this moment more powerful because then it becomes the reader’s first time there, too. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
In the end, Duane still sticks to the realism of the situation, though. I mean, the whole thing is absurdly fantastical, so that’s not what I meant. But once the four of them get back home (THROUGH MAGIC OH MY GOD), it’s not like the parents jump for joy at the prospect of what these kids are doing. No, the whole thing is scary and confusing and feels bigger than just a child revealing a secret to their parents. Nita is talking about SAVING MILLIONS UPON MILLIONS OF PEOPLE, and no matter how hard she tries to impart this on her parents, all they can hear is the personal: their daughter has risked her life multiple times already, and she’s going to more times in the future.
Therefore, I think it was necessary that Duane wrote these characters as angry. They have to be. If Nita’s parents had just accepted all of this, I probably would have felt weird about how this unfolded. But I found their anger refreshing. I’m so used to an artificial separation between parents and their children in YA – which I totally get, for the record! – that I came out of this experience feeling like my whole world had been blown wide open. I love everything about how this is depicted, even if it’s awkward and uncomfortable and painful to know that Nita is telling the truth to these people she loves.
Except she isn’t telling them that she’s probably going to die within the next day or so.
I don’t know where this book is going anymore. I don’t care. I have given myself over to this story because it feels right, it feels exciting, and it feels like the kind of book I’ve been waiting for my entire life.
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:
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