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Deep Wizardry by Diane Duane

Deep Wizardry by Diane Duane
Book Name: Deep Wizardry
Author: Diane Duane
Publisher(s): Harcourt Trade Publishers
Formatt: Paperback / Audiobook / Ebook
Genre(s): Classic YA Fantasy / Middle Grade Fantasy
Release Date: 1985

The second book in Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series, Deep Wizardry, is just as good as the first, I’m happy to say. Nita and Kit, the young wizards who thwarted the Lone Power, reappear just as they were in the first book: young, brash, and in ever so slightly over their heads. They are also on a well-deserved vacation. The Lone Power came to their Manhattan, after all, and they had to call upon the statues of New York to defend the city. After that, even an adult would want a bit of time off, and Nita and Kit have only just started to hit puberty.

At first, all is well. Glad their bookish daughter finally has a friend, the Callahans have invited Kit along to the beach with them for a vacation. Nita and Kit fully expect to spend their time relaxing and playing in the water, but naturally, things don’t go according to plan. (Things rarely do when you start playing around with magic.) The pair find an injured whale and soon find themselves called into action once again to fight the Lone Power.

That’s one of the interesting points about the series, by the way. With the antagonist existing outside of time, he may be defeated and defeated and yet still return to attack again. Diane Duane brings us deep enough into the story that it doesn’t seem at all like a cheat; it feels perfectly natural, and because of that, it isn’t a cheat at all. But I digress. There are whales to discuss.

This time, the way to defeat the Lone Power isn’t to sneak about a nightmare version of Manhattan to smuggle a book out from under his nose. Instead, there is a ritual: a great song performed by whale wizards recreating an ancient time when the Lone Power tempted them but was refused. Unfortunately, there are not enough wizards to perform the song, so Nita volunteers to fill the part of the Silent One, a humpback whale who has a small but significant role. Kit tags along as a sperm whale, because, to paraphrase another book about young wizards, there are some things you can’t go through without becoming friends, and thwarting the creator of entropy is one of them.

Nita and Kit are definitely friends by now, and it’s the sort of friendship any bookish teen might want: one based on mutual interests and without any of that “no boys/girls allowed” nonsense. It’s even (and this may come as a shock to some who know me well) a friendship that I don’t want to see blossom into a romance. Perhaps part of it is because neither of them has even started high school yet, but there’s something so delightfully platonic about these two, and I don’t want to see their dynamic change.

Not yet, anyway. We’ll see how it goes as the books go on.

Once again, I was blown away by this book, but I will admit that it did seem to follow a formula. Nita and Kit are called into action by a loveable non-human: check. (White holes are now essentially the dolphins of the universe.) Nita and Kit hesitate but go for it because it’s the right thing to do: check. (Though in this case they get a neat little perk, because who wouldn’t want to be a whale for a day or two?) Nita and Kit debate selflessness: check.

The last, of course, I don’t have a problem with, because selflessness is shaping up to be the theme of the series, and it’s a theme I heartily approve of. Even the first two aren’t too much of a problem. After all, overcoming hesitation is part of any Hero’s Journey, and it only makes sense that a hero would have to go through the journey several times. It’s the nature of magic in this series that the call to adventure happens again and again, and because of the weighty responsibility laid on the shoulders of wizards, it’s only natural that they would wonder whether they really want to put their lives aside to answer the call. However, that responsibility is also the reason they do answer. When you have the universe resting on your shoulders, how can you not act?

As for the loveable non-human… well, as I said to a friend of mine when trying to convince her to read the series, this is the one book I’ve found where a sentient shark actually feels like a shark and not just a human who happens to swim and eat fish with teeth that can be constantly replenished. Even if the book were nothing more than typical YA (and it isn’t; it’s YA of the highest caliber), I would recommend reading the book if only for the shark. He is chilling and terrifying and yet understandable, which is everything a shark should be.

Pretty soon, I’ll be diving into the third book in the series. I have no doubt that it will hold up to my hopes for it and am eager to see what sort of non-human mind I get to encounter in its pages.


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