Ryn's Reviews > Wizard's Hall

Wizard's Hall by Jane Yolen
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Oct 08, 10

bookshelves: children-s-fantasy
Read in July, 2009

** spoiler alert ** 'Thornmallow was a wizard, only the most minor of wizards... He was rarely Punctual or Practical and his nose tended toward smudginess.

But he meant well. And he tried.

... He came to Wizard's Hall at the time of its greatest peril... And it turned out the inhabitants of Wizard's Hall were glad indeed that Thornmallow studied there.

Not because he was the world's greatest wizard.

But because he meant well.

And he tried.'


I'd wanted to read Wizard's Hall ever since I'd discovered it in Grade 9 and exclaimed over how similar it was to Harry Potter. And then, as happens in schools in the wild, the librarian ran away with the book and never returned. And so, months passed and I forgot about the book entirely until around six years later, when it suddenly popped into my head again. Obviously I couldn't remember the title or the author (because that would actually have been helpful, and we couldn't have that!), only that it had to do with Harry Potter and something about- but not necessarily- thorns.

Searching the Internet was a fun task. Like getting hypothermia: at first you're in pain, and you just want to survive, but eventually you just lose all feeling and hope for death.

Eventually I found it.

It wasn't worth the effort.

It was a fairy tale. Which is fine. Better than fine! I love fairy tales. But I probably wouldn't have been so frantic to get the book if I'd known it was as thick as my pinky and only half as exciting.

So I'm a little disappointed.

But the book itself was really... cute! I loved the characters, especially Thornmallow and the teachers, and the moral of the story. It made me kind of miss the good old days when books had clear-cut lessons. Thornmallow wasn't special in any way but that he tried really, really hard. And that made all the difference. There was no prophecy, his dad was never mentioned, his mom was kind of batty (but loving!), and he was poor. Utterly ordinary. And he still defeated the villain. It's the perfect book for young kids, which is the age group it's geared for, so I guess my disappointment is totally unwarranted.

Apparently, J.K. Rowling's HP series is a rip-off of this book. It does have some striking similarities: Ron, Dumbledore, Hermione, and, of course, Harry are featured in this book. However, it is a children's fairy tale with only the sketchiest of plots. I like the writing, as well as Yolen's ideas, but it's still only the barest outline of the Harry Potter novels (and other novels involving ordinary boys who find out they're extraordinary, etc.). I will admit that the similarity of the characters is quite bizarre...
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