Mark Reads “Not On My Patch”: Part III

In the third and final part of “Not On My Patch,” the wizards fight to save Halloween. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards

Gods, do I ever love Halloween.

Throughout the Young Wizards books, I don’t think Diane Duane has ever had her characters face an antagonist or a threat that felt traditional. Even if the Lone Power represents the manifestation of Evil or Wrongness within the universe, It still doesn’t quite match up to what you’d expect from a fantasy series, certainly not one with “wizards” in the title. Thus far, we’ve had books dealing with:

  • Sentient vehicles
  • Undersea wizards
  • Mobiles
  • Ancient Irish forces from a “sideways” time
  • Cancer
  • The Lone One’s attack on an autistic kid
  • ALIEN WORLDS EVOLVING
  • The Pullulus???
  • THE FIRST MARTIANS

And so on. The point I’m trying to make is that there isn’t much in these books that feels traditional to fantasy. Or even science fiction, for that matter! It’s what has made this such a rewarding experience. I’ve never read anything like Young Wizards. This is not a set-up to say that I’m disappointed because “Not On My Patch” deals with a more common fantasy/horror trope, but rather to CELEBRATE it. It’s so cool that Duane found a way to make zombies a reality within this series. Of course, it’s with a Young Wizards twist, so let’s all scream about this:

Yangshi needed living creatures’ life force to survive, and they got it by prolonged physical contact, during which they sought to bight or wound the victim. If one of them had time to get so much as a tooth into you, that would be the end of it all. Might be quick, Nita thought or might take a long time.

But let the wound be as little as a snakebite, or as big as a whole leg pulled off, it wouldn’t matter. Every sentient thing came equipped with an invisible barrier layer that kept its soul bound inside its physical structure. The yangshi’s bite would open up a wound in the boundary layer that couldn’t be healed and would only tear wider with time. Inevitably the soul would leak out, and when the body no longer contained the threshold amount of soulstuff necessary to sustain the body/soul matrix, the spirit would go and the body would die.

This might feel like an understatement, but that’s probably the most cruel thing in this whole universe, and it is exactly the sort of thing that the Lone One would create. Not just create, mind you, but set upon the world on the night of Halloween, when humanity’s beliefs are that much closer to reality. On a world that still doesn’t know of wizardry, stuff like this is a million times worse, isn’t it? How would non-wizards even be able to fight something like this, you know?

So it’s up to our resident young wizards to take these zombies on, and LO AND BEHOLD, THERE IS A CATCH: They cannot be torn into any sort of piece, because that piece, even if broken off from the original, forms an entirely new zombie. It is a totally evil conceit, but this complication allows Nita to think of something that is the polar opposite. Intent and belief plays a huge part in the mechanics of wizardry, and I assume that’s why Duane uses the word “intent” in numerous ways throughout the spell constructions in Young Wizards. That is precisely what Nita taps into, using Jackie the pumpkin’s glorious intent to be the biggest pumpkin, full of the most sun, to vaporize all the zombies at once. The sequence is absurd and over-the-top, but it should be. It wouldn’t work otherwise, especially because this is the best moment in the whole story:

To Jackie she said silently, Are you absolutely sure you’re up for this?

Up for this? I was grown for this!

HELP ME, EMOTIONS FOR A SENTIENT PUMPKIN. Actually, I lied, this might be the best part:

Thank you, Jackie said, for picking me.

And it faded gently away into the dark, and was gone.

Nothing like fiction to make you want to cry over a pumpkin, y’all. Not just that, but KIT AND NITA BEING CUTE. Oh my god, they’re really dating! It’s canon! HOW ARE WE SO LUCKY.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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