Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews
For ages 9 to 12
Scholastic Press, 2016 ISBN: 978-0545861748
It all begins when Henry Leach the Eighth’s father gives his son a copy of The Wandmaker’s Guidebook. Like so many other young people, Henry is drawn to the idea of being able to do magic, and having a wand that would make such a thing possible. With great care Henry reads the book and follows the wand making directions that he is given to the letter. He cannot help hoping that if he succeeds maybe he will finally have the means to protect himself against the school bully who makes his life a living hell.
Unfortunately, Henry’s wand does not work and so he decides to write to Grand Wand Master Coralis, the author of The Wandmaker’s Guidebook. He cannot find any information about Coralis and therefore he does not know how to address his letter. Henry leaves the letter lying on his father’s desk and then it disappears.
Unknown to Henry, the letter is taken to Castle Coralis, delivered by a falcon called Randall. At first Coralis is infuriated by the missive. Then he realizes that the writer, Henry Leach, is the descendent of a very powerful member of the Wandmaker’s Guild, Henry Leach IV, who fought valiantly against an evil Wand Master called Dai She. It turns out that this young Henry Leach is not only the son of the seventh generation of Wandmakers on his father’s side, he is also the son of the seventh generation of Wandmakers on his mother’s side. Henry will have innate magical skills and it can only be hoped that he will use them for good. Coralis decides that he will send Henry some gifts to help him in his journey.
Randall the falcon delivers a package to Henry. In the package is a collection of crystals and a black wand. One of the crystals helps Henry translate the books of magic that he finds in his father’s office, and Henry works his way through the huge books, doing his best to understand what they say. Strange things start to happen that Henry does not understand, but he keeps going, hoping that eventually he will have the skills that he needs to wield a wand.
Then Henry and his little sister Brianna go to a hypnotist show and it turns out that the hypnotist came to Henry’s town just to see him. She is a Keeper, a librarian of sorts in the world of Wandmakers. Henry asks the Keeper what is going on; why have so many strange things been taking place over the last few weeks. The Keeper tells him that a “bad moon is on the rise.” Such a moon only occurs once every few hundred years, and an evil person could harness its power to do terrible things. Apparently an organization called the Scorax is out to destroy the world and somehow Henry has a role to play in what is happening.
When Henry and Brianna get home their mother is not there. Henry decides to try doing a little magic, but unfortunately something goes horribly wrong and he accidentally turns Brianna into a small blue hedgehog.
Thankfully for the children, their mother gave them instructions on what to do in her absence. It would appear that she somehow knew that they were going to need help. They follow her instructions to the letter, which is how they end up in a Wandmaker safe house in New York City. Coralis arrives at the house soon after and Henry finally has someone he can confide in; someone who has at least some sense of what is going on.
Henry, Coralis and Brianna travel to Henry’s home only to find that it has been ransacked. The magic books Henry has been translating are missing, and the only place in the house that has not been disturbed is Henry’s mother’s art studio. A mural on the walls convinces Coralis that the answers to their questions can be found in Arizona, amongst Henry’s mother’s people, the Navajo. They are going to have go south.
This engrossing book takes young readers on an incredible journey that is full of adventures, revelations, and surprises. Young readers who like books that are about magic, and the people who wield magic, will thoroughly enjoy this story.