Title: Wednesday Weeks and the Tower of Shadows
Author: Denis Knight and Cristy Burne
Publisher: Hachette/Lothian Children’s Books
Published: 27th April 2021
Synopsis: A seriously smart and funny new series about a reluctant sorcerer’s apprentice who would rather study science than magic, which asks the question: In a world of magic, can science save the day? Perfect for fans of Nevermoor, Artemis Fowl and The Witching Hours.
In a world of magic, can science save the day?
Wednesday Weeks never wanted to be a sorcerer’s apprentice. She’d rather study science than magic. But when her cloak-wearing, staff-wielding grandpa is captured by a power-hungry goblin king, Wednesday must find a way to embrace her magical heritage and rescue him from the dreaded Tower of Shadows.
Luckily, she’s not alone. Her best friend Alfie is a prime-number fan and robotics expert who’s all-in on Wednesday’s epic plan involving parallel universes, swords of power, and a wise-cracking talking skull.
But it’s going to take more than science, magic, and the world’s cutest robot to take down this bad guy. Because the goblin king is playing for the ultimate prize – and Wednesday and Alfie just walked into his trap…
Science and magic combine in this exciting new middle grade series, Wednesday Weeks by writing duo Denis Knight and Cristy Burne. Wednesday loves science – she prefers it to magic. But she’s been appointed a sorcerer’s apprentice. Her grandfather is teaching her magic, and how to use it, when he goes missing – kidnapped by the goblin-king. As Wednesday learns to embrace her magical talents, she is accompanied by her best friend from school, Alfie, who loves prime numbers, robotics and magical swords, as well as a talking skull called Bruce. Bruce is a little sarcastic, is wise cracking, and loves to point out what he thinks Wednesday and Alfie are doing wrong. Coupled with being hunted by the fae and the goblins, the two friends must find a way to get what they lose back and find a way to harness Wednesday’s magic so she can save the day.
What a unique take on fantasy! Often, fantasy novels are set in a medieval-esque world where magic is a given. Or they’re portal novels, where the protagonist is thrust into a fantastical world with talking animals and witches – and where magic comes in all sorts of forms but is usually enthusiastically embraced by the characters when they find out, and once they get used to the idea. However, Wednesday doesn’t want to embrace magic: she’d rather spend her time exploring and learning about science at school – but her magic keeps making strange things happen at school – and only Alfie stands by her.
When they are whisked into a magical realm – one of nine – to find Wednesday’s grandfather after Wednesday sends a pile of laundry and a magical ring to one of the realms, chaos begins to ensue. This is a fun novel that is filled with adventure and will fill science and magic lovers alike as it allows magic and science the space to grow and evolve to work together and show that they are two entities that can complement each other, and not be exclusive or separate from each other. The beauty in this book is allowing magic and science to shine, and be seen as unique, yet at the same time, using the logic that we often apply to maths and science to the workings of magic. The marriage of science and magic might seem unusual at first – it isn’t something we expect, but here, it works seamlessly and celebrates girls being interested in science and the reluctant hero embracing their interests and their destiny.
This is another great book that celebrates friendship – and friendship between a boy and a girl. This is a common theme lately and is a reassuring message that lets kids know you can be friends with anyone – that you don’t need to be friends with just girls, just boys or people who are like you. It celebrates difference and allows kids to see themselves in Alfie and Wednesday – in a variety of ways that celebrates what makes us different and special and shows that it is wonderful when it is our interests, rather than physical similarities that unite us and bring us together.
Written by two authors – Denis and Cristy – the story and characters flow seamlessly, driving a well-thought-out narrative forward as hints are dropped about characters and plot that will hopefully be picked up on the later books, so we can find out all about the intricacies of this world Wednesday lives in. I really hope that Bruce returns and we see more of his attitude – he was a real star and I think a clever way to bring a familiar into a story that uses tropes and themes common in fantasy, but takes a wonderfully new and inventive stance on the fantasy novel.
A wonderful start to a new series!