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The Evil Wizard Smallbone

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  905 ratings  ·  212 reviews
In a hilarious tale reminiscent of T. H. White, a lost boy finds himself an unlikely apprentice to the very old, vaguely evil, mostly just grumpy Wizard Smallbone.

When twelve-year-old Nick runs away from his uncle’s in the middle of a blizzard, he stumbles onto a very opinionated bookstore. He also meets its guardian, the self-proclaimed Evil Wizard Smallbone, who calls Ni
Kindle Edition, 416 pages
Published September 13th 2016 by Candlewick Press
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Average rating 3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  905 ratings  ·  212 reviews

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Hannah Greendale
The glimmer of illusion, the crackle of magic, and the crunch of snow are forefront in this whimsical tale that is, sadly, brimming with unmet potential.

Spotlight (Andre Norton audio-enhanced) video review forthcoming.
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. $1.99 Kindle sale, August 28, 2017. What a delightful, fun middle grade fantasy! It's not really much like Harry Potter plotwise, other than being about a boy who's discovering the magic powers in himself, who has some awful relatives, but it carries the same kind of vibe for me as the first HP book, in particular. So if that sounds appealing, grab a copy of this one!

Nick is a neglected, stubborn 12 year old runaway who somehow finds himself in the clutches of the evil Wizard Smallbon
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
An excellent middle grade modern fantasy with generous doses of humour.

This book definitely earned it's place on the
Andre Norton Award shortlist. It is well written, nicely paced and much funnier than I thought it would be. The tone of the storytelling reminded me a bit of the Percy Jackson books, and the reading level is approximately the same.

I listened to the audiobook version with my two kids and they both loved it. The narration was fabulous, and we all enjoyed the voice acting which added
Richard Cardenas
Sep 28, 2016 rated it liked it

I really enjoyed this one but I do have to say that it was 200 pages TOO long. I found myself getting bored and feeling like it was a chore to read and that's not a good thing. However I loved the characters and how cozy and fun this book felt. But again it felt too long and was really slow. I will be talking about it more in a Double Book Thoughts video with The Haunted House Project in October on my channel! :)
Rebecca McNutt
Aug 30, 2019 rated it liked it
The Evil Wizard Smallbone is a fun little story, taking a common enough fantasy trope and putting a unique spin on it with endearing characters to make it more engaging. Although initially rather dismal in the prospects for main character Nick, the book quickly becomes a lot more uplifting and fun when Nick's curiosity leads him to the home of a supposedly evil (more curmudgeonly and set in his ways than anything else) wizard who takes him on as an assistant. Nick begins to find his place here i ...more
Frequently amusing, this story of Nick, an abused, almost teen, fleeing his guardian and encountering and learning to live with the Evil Wizard Smallbone, is fun. The Wizard protects a nearby small town, Smallbone Cove, and lives with a variety of animals, and an opinionated bookstore. There are a series of mysteries Nick must figure out while learning cook for the wizard, taking care of his creatures and interacting with the bookstore. And there's another evil wizard in the vicinity, with his m ...more
Dec 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
This is delightful traditional contemporary fantasy - with all the thrilling trappings of fantasy - and a wonderful point of view. And though it's a traditional story, it's still got some surprises up its sleeve (view spoiler), which is fantastic.

There are some loose ends. I'm not sure why (view spoiler)
Aug 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure why it's being referred to as "hilarious" because, although it has moments of humor, it's not a funny book. It's quirky and oddly sweet and touching, but with a dark undercurrent. It's smart and thrilling and deeply satisfying. It is not, however, "hilarious". That aside, though, it is the kind of middle grade fantasy that finds its readers and holds on to them forever and ever and becomes a beloved childhood favorite. Twenty years (and more) from now, the kids who read it are going ...more
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Delightful story for school-aged children!
Brandy Painter
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Delia Sherman is a book I could not wait to read. The cover, synopsis, and praise it received seemed to make it a perfect fit for me. And it was. I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon I spent reading this book. It has a magical bookshop. A MAGICAL BOOKSHOP.

Nick runs away from his abusive uncle and cousin after years living with them following his mother's death. He is not exactly prepared for his escape and finds
Liz at Midnight Bloom Reads
If you love Studio Ghibli films like Howl's Moving Castle or Spirited Away, I definitely recommend giving Delia Sherman's The Evil Wizard Smallbone a chance. This book is so charming and heartfelt, brimming with magic and a cast of peculiar characters. I would read a few chapters each night before bedtime like I was a little kid again, delighted in the story and Nick's journey as an unwilling apprentice to the Evil Wizard Smallbone.

When Nick runs away from his uncle's home one winter night, esca
Beth Cato
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle, 2017, fantasy
I read this as part of the Norton finalist packet.

This clever middle grade books begins with a jerk of a kid, Nick, fleeing from his abusive uncle and cousin. He ends up stumbling upon the abode of an evil wizard, who immediately takes him in as an apprentice—but really, as more as an indentured servant. Nick grows as a sympathetic character as he endures the wizard's bizarre behavior, befriends a sentient bookstore, and discovers the wizard's personal town and its captive citizens. Meanwhile, d
Nancy Kotkin
The bones of this story are good, though it is too long and meandering. Some of the plot developments don't really go anywhere, (view spoiler). Some of the characters, like Ollie and Tom, seem extraneous. But Nick is a strong-willed protagonist who ends up in a different, and better, place than he starts. And who doesn't love shapeshifting and magical books?
Monica Edinger
Mar 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Great fun. Reminded me at moments of Diana Wynne Jones' Chrestomanci books, in the best way.
After running away for the third time, Nick stumbles onto the dwelling of the Evil Wizard Smallbone who forces him to become his apprentice. But he doesn't teach Nick any magic. But Nick, being a rather resourceful kid, discovers that the bookstore that Smallbone supposedly runs will help him learn magic, but only if he cooperates. Meanwhile, the Evil Wizard Fidelou is working on bringing down the magical Sentries (spells) that are keeping Smallbone Cove protected, and Nick's cousin and uncle ar ...more
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shitty on several levels. Basically, the wizard's character is half baked. He behaves in an abusive fashion to the villagers/his apprentices and we get a ridiculous explanation (it wasn't really him! Even though some of it was him ie turning the boy into a spider, stone, rat etc). The villain is ridiculous and french. It's just boring and soulless and there are no significant female characters. Pass.
Sep 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Sweet, fun, funny and magical. I loved Nick, and I LOVED the magical bookstore. (Who wouldn't want one of those?) This book was so much fun to read.
Kailey (BooksforMKs)
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-my-kindle
Nick runs away from his abusive uncle, only to fall into the hands of an evil wizard! Nick is forced to become Smallbone's apprentice, but the old man refuses to teach him any magic. Unraveling the secrets of the Evil Wizard Bookshop and the mysterious town of Smallbone Cove, Nick will have to outwit his master before an even more evil wizard, Fidelou, terrorizes and destroys the entire town.

I am delighted with this whimsical tale of wizardry! I love the enchanted town of Smallbone Cove and the
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
Delightful! What a perfectly written children's book. It reminded me in bits and pieces of many of my favorites. The story is set in the present, though somehow I kept picturing Pip from Great Expectations and the streets and villages of the old English countryside. There were magical elements reminiscent of Narnia, a warlock that I imagined as a male version of the Wicked Witch in Oz, all based in a quaint little town like Belle's from the Disney Beauty and the Beast. Oh, and don't forget a pac ...more
Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Running away from his abusive uncle, Nick stumbles upon Evil Wizard Books, and its crusty proprietor. Could the old man really be a wizard? Nick doubts it -- until the evil wizard declares Nick his apprentice and enchants him so that he can't leave the property. Nick is sure that Smallbone doesn't mean to teach him any magic -- but maybe he's stubborn enough to learn on his own...

This is an enjoyable read for fans of children's fantasy. It's quirky, with hints of darkness, but not anything that
Holly Esterline
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dcf-2017-2018
fun romp; action and magic and remembering who you are, even if that may change over time
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
This is a nice light read.

I enjoyed the way the magic was done. I particularly liked the final reveal about Smallbone. I liked how Nick's magical strengths presented themselves - he was good at some things and less good at others. And I love that his best friend is the magical bookshop at one point in this novel. Also, I feel like the setting is quite well-described.

I feel like this takes a fair number of fairly common tropes, and does them well, with enough surprises along the way. (view spoile
Amanda Workman
Sep 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Such a lovely fantasy. The characters are sweet, the world believable and the message heartwarming. Following the rules of story telling the author sees its hero grow and learn in a way that makes sense. My only issue is the length. Could have been a bit tighter in some areas but overall a fun read.
Jenni Frencham
Aug 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, middle-grade
Sherman, Delia. The Evil Wizard Smallbone. Candlewick, 2016.

Nick finally escapes his abusive uncle's home, only to find himself on the doorstep of an evil wizard who makes Nick his apprentice, which makes it impossible for Nick to leave his house. Smallbone has Nick cooking, cleaning, and caring for his animals; meanwhile the town around him is falling apart because they have not taken care of the magical protections the wizard had placed there. It takes the natural magical talents Nick has work
Mary Catelli
Nick, a run-away boy, in the snow, stumbles on a grand house, and bookstore. Hammering on the door bring out a man who asks him whether he can read -- he lies and says not -- and then drags him in to do his work, and never learn to be an evil wizard like him, since he can't read the books.

Meanwhile, the nearby town of Smallbone Cove has some problems with motorcyclists.

It involves an old rivalry, all sorts of skins used in shape-shifting, nursery rhymes, E-Z Spells for Little Wizardz, a libraria
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Delia Sherman became one of my favorite fantasy authors, when I read an anthology that included a story by her. So I looked her up online and ordered a bunch of her books, including this delightful fairy tale.

"Fummydiddling with enchanted doo-dads" isn't an expression you come across every day. Actually, the evil wizard reminds me of my Uncle Buddy. The way he talks and takes his apprentice for granted... how he's eager to criticize and complain but doesn't acknowledge Nick's housecleaning and r
Beth Bernobich
Apr 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, mg
I had the very good luck to read a draft of this book. And oh my, what a delight. I plan on buying at least one copy for me, and one for a friend.
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book charmed me beyond belief. A tale of transformation and redemption, it is exactly the book I needed today.
George Irwin
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great YA book - reminded me a bit of the "Girl who circumnavigated fairyland" series, but more of a male twist.
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Just a super fun, hard to put down read perfect to share with my 11-year old.
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All About Fantasy!: The evil wizard smallbone 3 10 May 27, 2017 06:49AM  
Into the Forest: a wizard and his pupil 1 12 Dec 04, 2016 04:54PM  
Fairy Tales Eclectic: Master and Pupil retold 1 7 Dec 04, 2016 04:53PM  

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Delia Sherman (born 1951) is a fantasy writer and editor. Her novel The Porcelain Dove won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award.

She was born in Tokyo and brought up in New York City. She earned a PhD in Renaissance studies at Brown University and taught at Boston and North-eastern universities. She is the author of the novels Through a Brazen Mirror, The Porcelain Dove (a Mythopoeic Award winner), and Ch

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