Witch & Wizard
written by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet
illustrated by Svetlana Chmakova
In James Patterson’s Witch & Wizard, teenagers Wisty and Whit live in a world where a person can still be put on trial and executed for witchcraft. The book opens with the two of them, plus their parents, about to be hanged, then backs up to explain how they got there.
The “New Order” has taken over the government, bringing with it tyrannical rule. People accused of witchcraft are arrested, taken to trial without a lawyer, and then thrown into prisons where they have to run past vicious biting dogs in order to get their meals.
Wisty, Whit, and their parents are among those arrested. At first the kids think the accusations are bogus, but then they realize they do indeed have magic powers, which they gradually teach themselves to use. The only good news is that the parents manage to escape, so the kids hope they’ll be rescued.
Then, right before their scheduled execution, Wisty and Whit make their own escape and meet up with other children who are determined to make things right again. There are quite a few prophecies going on, including one says that kids will someday rule the world. Witch & Wizard is very much kid-centric, in the way that adults are often portrayed as one-dimensional and evil while the kids know what’s going on and save the day. Wisty and Whit’s parents seem to be about the only non-evil adults out there.
Unfortunately, Wisty and Whit are captured again. They learn that there are more prophecies, including ones that deal with them personally. The prophecies “A boy and a girl, brother and sister, shall be born to Wiccans and shall achieve powers heretofore unrealized by any other Wiccan” and “The boy and girl shall lead an army of children to victory” have the New Order scared enough to want Wisty and Whit dead. While the book tries to base itself somewhat on Wicca, the witchcraft here is obviously the stuff of fiction and not of the Wiccan religion.
The book goes full circle, getting us back to the hanging and ending with a cliffhanger there. It’s definitely full of action and magic, and the cliffhanger is a good gimmick to get readers interested. While officially labeled “Teen,” I think older elementary school students would also be in the right age category, especially because of all the stuff with kids as heroes.