Mark Reads ‘Wizard’s Holiday’: Chapter 1

In the first chapter of Wizard’s Holiday, THIS WAS SO FUN. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards. 

So, there will probably be some repetition here between the video and this review, but I have SO MANY THINGS I want to talk about. SHALL WE.

Spring Break

A bit off in my predictions, which is okay! So, this book takes place over spring break, which limits the span of the novel; I had assumed something that would be months long. That also means that maybe this isn’t going to take place outside of New York! At no point does Nita mention leaving town. LOOK, I TRIED. I figured that “holiday” had the more British/Europe meaning, like “vacation,” and assumed that Nita would go somewhere.

At the same time, I was deeply distracted by the fact that spring break for Nita, Kita, and Dairine was two weeks long. TWO. WEEKS. WHAT THE FUCK. Is this standard in other parts of the country? World? Do other countries even have spring break? Look, we only got one week off here in California, and you know what teachers always did? Assign some nasty project that required days worth of work because they were petty demons who hated fun. I haven’t truly had or enjoyed a spring break in like twenty years, and these kids get TWO WHOLE WEEKS OFF.

Grocery Shopping

I’ve got a massive list of things that all schools should teach to kids, and learning how to grocery shop for yourself is one of them. (Along with learning what taxes are. How to save. How to manage a full-time job and personal chores. HOW TO FIX EASILY FIXABLE THINGS AROUND THE HOUSE.) It took me a hot minute to figure this shit out because I either bought too much stuff in a panic (and too much of it went bad), or I then reacted to said result by buying too little and running out of food. Part of that was due to one complication: FOOD DESERTS. For a huge chunk of my life, I lived in them, which meant that it was miles to a grocery store that had fresh fruit and vegetables. Usually, those stores were also nowhere near the bus/train stops, so I could only get to them if I got a ride. When that happened? I’d stock up, uncertain if I’d have another chance to get veggies and fruits again.

Even then, I wish someone had taught me how to plan meals in advance; how to stock a cupboard with basic items that can allow you to concoct a quick meal if you were exhausted or pressed for time; HOW TO STORE THINGS IN THE FRIDGE SO THAT THEY DIDN’T GO BAD IMMEDIATELY.

This chapter is giving me a lot of feelings, okay? Buckle in.

Cafeteria Food

WHAT THE HELL WAS IT LIKE FOR ALL OF YOU???? Where I spent most of my childhood – Riverside, CA – all cafeteria food was gross, processed garbage. ALL OF IT. When I got to high school, if you were lucky enough to be able to afford it, you could buy pizza or burritos catered from off-site, or these salad cup things that I loved (because I love salads universally FIGHT ME), and the lines for them were super long because they were the best food. However, I was supporting myself through my final years of high school, so i got approved for free lunch that was subsidized through the district. The food was horrible, yet it was often the only time I was getting a meal, so I had to eat it. (It’s no wonder I went vegan a year after I graduated high school.)

I remember the lunch in Boise, though, for the two years I got to have it. We had an honest-to-gods SALAD BAR three times a week. All of the meals had fresh veggies, some sort of protein, a drink, and once a week, we got a dessert. This isn’t me remembering it differently: the food was demonstrably better, so much so that my mom pitched a fit at school when my brother and I started getting sick from lunch in Riverside.


A Life Without

There’s a subtle thing that Duane does in this first chapter: establish a life without Nita’s mother. It’s nowhere near as devastating as the opening of A Wizard Alone. Instead, we get the feel of the passage of time, and with that passage, Nita has found ways to move on. She doesn’t forget her mother, and the entire bit with the empty fridge is a chilling way for us to accept that Nita’s mom is no longer in the picture. That’s what she was good at, and now that she’s no longer around, the Callahan family has to come up with a way to adjust.

It’s kind of haunting and eerily effective.


Actually, there’s another change here that’s super fascinating to me:

“Welcome to our planet, Mr. Alien,” Carmela had said. Nita absolutely approved of the sentiment. What was unusual was that Carmela had used the Speech to express it.

SO. WHAT. WHAT. How is she learning it? How often does Kit speak it aloud? Is this a sign of SOMETHING ELSE?

I also adored that Duane made it clear that Nita’s dream “powers” were going to be addressed in this book. That was such a huge part of the plot in A Wizard Alone, and I definitely want to see how that develops. As it stands, the dream journal is a great way for Duane to accomplish some foreshadowing and character development at the same time. So… space? someone waiting a long time?


Duane wastes zero time in this book, and the first conflict arrives in Dairine. Well, Dairine appears on the last page of the chapter, but what she’s done manifests itself in Spot, who spends a good deal of time cowering in a cupboard because of something that Dairine did. Given Diarine’s emotional state in the last novel, I wasn’t surprised to learn that she’d been screwing things up. What I am curious about is if this has to do with her power leveling out as well. Dairine’s always had a bigger rebellious streak than Nita, too, and I’m certain that’s got a part to play in this.

Whatever Dairine did was bad enough that Spot started freaking out before she got home. Tom was alarmed enough that he came over to the Callahan resident to intercept Dairine. He refers to it as not “on the scale of previous transgressions,” but still. TOM CAME TO THEIR HOUSE. THAT FEELS LIKE A BIG DEAL.

I also shall vicariously live through Nita since I tended to be the one to get in trouble the most as a kid. FINALLY. It’s someone else’s turn!

Mark Links Stuff

I am now on Patreon! There are various levels of support, from $1 up to whatever you want! You’ll get to read a private blog, extra reviews, and other such rewards. I POST A LOT OF CUTE PHOTOS, OKAY. Think of it like a private Tumblr blog that only SPECIAL PEOPLE get to read.
– I have updated my list of conventions and events for the remainder of the year and much of next year.  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 have been announced here.
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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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