Booklist starred (February 15, 2013 (Vol. 109, No. 12))
Grades 4-7. Nearly abandoned in a forest by his stepfather, young orphan Jinx lands, instead, in the home of a wizard, Simon. There Jinx, who has always had an ability to see others’ feelings in colors and symbols, develops the ability to communicate with the forest’s trees. But after Simon performs a spell, Jinx loses his capacity as an emotional seer. Setting out into the forest to look for a counterspell, Jinx joins company with a girl and a boy, both of whom are suffering under their own curses. In this expertly paced, beautifully written book, Blackwood elevates familiar fantasy elements with exquisitely credible characters who inhabit a world filled with well-drawn magic and whimsy—witches travel by butter churn, for example. Rounding out the exciting story are terrifying dangers, delightful bouts of wordplay, and vivid settings that will appeal to readers’ imaginations, senses of humor, and desire for fair play. A literary cut above Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl books but with no less tension or bravado, this exciting, thought-provoking debut will leave readers eager for follow-up adventures.