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The Wizard of Dark Street (Oona Grate…
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The Wizard of Dark Street (Oona Grate Mysteries) (edition 2011)

by Shawn Thomas Odyssey

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56None209,424 (3.54)5
Member:wyvernfriend
Title:The Wizard of Dark Street (Oona Grate Mysteries)
Authors:Shawn Thomas Odyssey
Info:Egmont USA (2011), Hardcover, 346 pages
Collections:Wishlist
Rating:
Tags:fiction, library NIS, checked 27/9/12

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The Wizard of Dark Street by Shawn Thomas Odyssey

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Oona, the 13 year old sleuth of this YA fantasy/mystery, lives on Dark Street, a one street town lying between the New York of 1876 and the land of the Fay. Every midnight for one minute there's an open gate between NYC and Dark Street, and the rest of the time the city is inaccessible. Oona was apprenticed to her uncle, the Wizard of Dark Street, their only wizard, and the person who protects the town against possible fairy attack. Three years before the book starts, she accidentally killed her family with a spell gone wrong and now she doesn't trust magic. She's grieving and guilty, so she's lost heart and decided to give up her apprenticeship and open a detective agency. The Wizard has begun to interview apprentice candidates when a magical floating dagger stabs him, leaving his clothes on the ground and the Wizard vanished. It transpires that the dagger may not have killed the Wizard, so Oona goes in search of her uncle and the person who committed the crime.

It's always nice to read about intelligent people doing clever and brave things, and that recipe seems to work particularly well in YA. This book shares DNA with a lot of YA fantasy and detective novels, particularly The Mysterious Benedict Society books, Agatha Christy, and Edward Eager. Aside from those resemblances, I thought the author did a great job of making Oona sound like a real person with a personal history, right from the start. In most YA we're introduced to the protagonists as nearly blank slates (usually to give the author room to let them grow). Oona certainly grows, but she isn't presented to the reader as a blank. She's grieving, and this is the emotional setup for the story. If you compare to, say, Harry Potter, Harry has a backstory but he is presented as being in a sort of equilibrium when the story starts and events just happen to him because he has no agency. That is what's usual for fantasy novels. Oona's in the process of making dramatic life changes that are under her control, then she's thrown for a further loop and must respond. That's what makes this book different and worth reading. ( )
  particle_p | Apr 1, 2013 |
Read This Review & More Like It At Ageless Pages Reviews

When I was in the 9-12 age range, some of my favorite books were mysteries, particularly the kind where no one got hurt and I got to play along at home. Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown, "Alfred Hitchcock", (though I could never guess those twists. The diamond was in the python, who was in the acrobats' baton?!) I think Oona Crate and The Wizard of Dark Street would have made little-me very happy and will certainly become a mainstay in my house as my nieces enter their middle-grade years.

Dark Street is an entire city condensed into one very long road. At one end, an iron gate that opens into our world. At the other, a glass gate that opens into the world of the fae. But that gate doesn't open any more. Cut off from the magical world of Faerie for so long, Dark Street, and New York beyond, have very little magic to tap into, except for the Wizard. The Wizard lives in Pendulum House and is responsible for the street's magical needs. There must always be a Wizard on Dark Street, even if he's a rather mediocre one like Uncle Alexander. Fortunately, Oona is the most promising Wizard apprentice in some time. She has Natural Magic, unlike her uncle's Learned variety. Unfortunately, she has no interest in being a Wizard, after a tragedy several years before book start.

First, Oona is fantastic. She's logical, resourceful, and brave. When she's thrust into the heart of a mystery, her immediate reaction isn't to fall to pieces, but to find a way to make it right. After being a Wizard didn't work out, she realizes what she really wants is to be a detective like her dad. She handles the career switch pretty maturely for a 12 year old and sets off to solve two seemingly unrelated mysteries. She's joined by a motley assortment of side characters who I wish had gotten more screen time. There's a talking animal sidekick, a wise servant, a prissy rich girl, a mysterious love interest, a timid witch, and the one who's not from around here. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough time to flesh them out, what with them all being murder suspects, and that did show towards the end of the book when I realized that after 345 pages, I wasn't rock solid on any of the apprentice candidates names.

The mystery is appropriately twisty, but not unfairly so. You may be able to guess the culprit relatively quickly, but the manner in which whodunit kept me guessing all book long. In the vein of old Nancy Drew stories, every single detail is vitally important and not a piece of candy can be overlooked in the conclusion. Including candy. And overturned stones. And cinnamon.

The Wizard of Dark Street is a bright, smart Middle-Grade fantasy with a great protagonist and a world I'm eager to revisit. If I could give it a grade, (oh look, I can!) I'd say A and a gold star. ( )
  golden_lily | Mar 29, 2013 |
It is 1877, and 12-year-old Oona Crate is the Wizard's Apprentice of Dark Street. Dark Street is the last of thirteen Faerie roads connecting the World of Man with the World of Faerie. There are gates at both ends. The gate at the World of Man opens onto a street in New York City once a day, for one minute at the stroke of midnight. The gate of the World of Faerie remains closed.

Being the Wizard's Apprentice is an important task, but what Oona longs to be is a detective. Soon enough she must become a detective and solve one of the most important cases imaginable. Her helpers are Deacon, a black raven that can talk, and Samuligan, the Wizard's faerie servant.

There are lots of suspects (as there are in any good classical type mystery) and she must use logic to solve the mysteries that surround her. Dark Street is a magical place, filled with witches, an odd faerie or two and goblins.

The Wizard of Dark Street is a well plotted story that would stand up favorably against any "adult" mystery. The necessary clues are there, if you can see them; the outcome logical. And there is the magic element that makes it so much fun. ( )
  mysterymax | Oct 10, 2011 |
Love this book!! This book is right up my alley.It's a great mix of Harry Potter and Sherlock Holmes without copy them.All you love about Harry like goblins,witches and Diagon Alley are in here but with it very own style. So glad that I purchased this book,it is one my favorites! ( )
  jessica1975 | Aug 5, 2011 |
The Little Bookworm
12 year old Oona is destined for the position of Wizard's Apprentice since she is a rare Natural Magician. But all she wants to do is start her own detective agency. When the current Wizard, also Oona's uncle, is stabbed with a magic knife, it's up to Oona to figure out who purported the crime.

This was a great mix of fantasy and mystery so it combined two of my favorite genres. Oona is a girl detective and those are the best kind. She is smart, witty, clever and loyal to her uncle. She is also filled with a deep sadness after the death of her mother and sister and a fear of her own magic because of their deaths. It adds some depth to Oona's story which otherwise might have been too formulaic. I also loved Oona's talking encyclopedia raven, Deacon, and their relationship with each other and how he aids her in sleuthing and acts as her friend and companion.

The world that Odyssey has built is very well thought. Dark Street is the last of the faerie paths, now closed off to the Faerie world and only available to our world for a minute each night at midnight. It makes the inhabitants of Dark Street very unique. Still it is a pretty normal place to them. But it is a world unto itself. I liked how the magic of the place flavored the book, but wasn't the point of the book. I loved how really this is, at heart, a mystery, just dressed in fantasy clothes. ( )
  thelittlebookworm | Jul 21, 2011 |
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In 1877, in an enchantment shop on the last of the Faerie roads linking New York City to the Land of the Fey, just after twelve-year-old Oona opts to relinquish her apprenticeship to her uncle, the Wizard, and become a detective, her uncle is stabbed, testing her skills.… (more)

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