Sunday, January 22, 2017
Arc Review: The Wizard's Dog by Eric Kahn Gale
The Wizard's Dog by Eric Kahn Gale. 277 p. Crown Books for Young Readers/ Random House Children's Books, January, 2017. 9780553537369. (Review from arc courtesy of publicist.)
I love King Arthur stories. I fell in love with T. H. White's The Once and Future King as a teenager and reread it every so often. I hope to tackle Mallory someday, but for now I enjoy retelling's by contemporary authors. I especially enjoy retellings if there's a twist or something that makes it fresh.* So when I received an email asking me if I would be interested in The Wizard's Dog, I did not respond.
Wait. What? The email came just before the holidays and got lost in the hustle and bustle of things. Thank goodness for a follow-up email after the New Year for this is a story you will want to share with the young people in your life.
This is the story of Merlin as told by his dog, Nosewise. Merlin, Nosewise and Morgana live deep in the woods, protected by a wall of magical trees. Both Morgana and Nosewise were rescued by Merlin and Nosewise believes they are all packmates. Nosewise has learned quite a few tricks, like Sit! and Stay! and Speak! He is a bit dismayed to find out that Morgana is learning magic and is something called an apprentice. He wants to learn magic if only to defeat the pesky door that keeps him from things like Merlin's study and the great outdoors.
Morgana takes an interest in teaching Nosewise magic and the two steal away for quiet time to pursue finding Certainty and his Mind's Eye. They discover that he can do more than Speak! when he wears Morgana's Asteria, her magical stone, and both are delighted. Nosewise love speaking human and is eager to learn more magic.
When Merlin is kidnapped and Morgana disappears, it is up to Nosewise to scent the trail and rescue them. What an adventure awaits!
This fast-paced, humorous yarn will hook tween readers from page one and have them furiously turning pages to the satisfying ending. I happened to start the book while waiting for my flight to Atlanta for ALAMW17 and got about 2/3 the way through by the time I landed. I reluctantly stowed it while making my train, checking in, etc. I could not wait to finish! And I cannot wait to buy a finished copy for my school's collection.
Illustrations in the arc were not complete but promise to add to the excitement of the story. Oberon is positively scary and his way of speaking in rhyme was totally mesmerizing. I must admit though, Nosewise looks a bit crazed on the cover to me though not in the interior art.
There's a nifty little trailer online.
The freeing of the sword in the stone is just the beginning of the King Arthur lore, does this mean there are more Wizard's Dog books in store?
*Philip Reeve wrote one of my favorite retellings, Here Lies Arthur (Scholastic, 2008).