Jinx is written by Sage Blackwood. It was published in 2013 by Harper.
In the Urwald, you don’t step off the path. Trolls, werewolves, and butter churn-riding witches lurk amid the clawing branches, eager to swoop up the unwary. Jinx has always feared leaving the path—then he meets the wizard Simon Magus.
Jinx knows that wizards are evil. But Simon’s kitchen is cozy, and he seems cranky rather than wicked. Staying with him appears to be Jinx’s safest, and perhaps only, option. As Jinx’s curiosity about magic grows, he learns to listen to the trees as closely as he does to Simon’s unusual visitors. The more Jinx discovers, the more determined he becomes to explore beyond the security of well-trodden paths.
But in the Urwald, a little healthy fear is never out of place, for magic—and magicians—can be as dangerous as the forest. And soon Jinx must decide which is the greater threat.
Excuse me while I express myself in popular terms: this book hit me right in the feels. THE FEELS. All of them. It gave me all the feels.
Seriously, though: Jinx! Simon! Jinx and Simon! Simon and Sadie! But mostly Jinx and Simon!
I adore the “cranky loner loves deeply but doesn’t show it well” plot trope, or whatever Simon falls under. At the end of the book, all I wanted to do was go around telling people, “SIMON LOVES JINX, YOU GUYS.” And this book really hit me when Jinx fell and Simon’s face was white and the reader realizes it’s not because he’s sick, as Jinx assumes, but because Jinx fell and Simon loves Jinx. And then you just want to hug Simon even though it’s basically his fault that things ended up this way, sort of, and then at the end of the book all you want to know is where Sadie is so that the happy family can be completed. Where is the next book I want it right now.
World notes: loved the witches on butter churns, loved the system of magic in general and especially Jinx’s.
Other notes: loved the “Romeo and Juliet” type romance between Simon and Sadie, and, if you hadn’t noticed, I loved Simon and Jinx’s father/son relationship (or where it ended, anyway). Elfwyn and Reven were okay, too, if somewhat generic, and the Bonemaster was deliciously creepy for a Middle Grade book.
Why is there always that one wizard character named Simon Magus? Is this supposed to be symbolic, or reflective, or just poor imaginative skills?
Recommended Age Range: 12+
Warnings: Some slightly disturbing/creepy scenes and images.
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Jinx sat on the floor beside the skull and read whatever books Simon would let him. Sometimes when he reached for a book, Simon would glance up briefly and say, “Not that one.”
And sometimes, if Simon said that, Jinx waited till another time when the wizard wasn’t paying quite so much attention.
If Simon said nothing, Jinx would take the book, open it very cautiously in case it burst into flames, and read. Some of the books were in neither Urwish nor Samaran, but in some other language. This didn’t matter as long as you listened to the books, he realized. He wondered how many languages there were in the world, and how many places besides the Urwald.
When Sophie was visiting, she always asked Jinx about his reading. Sometimes she talked to him using the languages he’d only read in books. Jinx listened carefully—the words weren’t pronounced quite the way he’d expected—before answering her.
“Simon, the boy’s taught himself four languages,” Sophie said.
“Mm,” said Simon.
It did take me a little bit to really get into Jinx, but once I did I loved it dearly. I loved Simon and Jinx’s relationship development, and even though Simon and Sadie were slightly less developed, I am eager to see if/when Sadie comes back. Reven and Elfwyn were okay characters, although slightly generic, but they had a nice rapport with Jinx. I hated the fact that Simon was named Simon, but overall, a great MG book.
You can buy this here: Jinx