September 14, 2002
Book Review -- The Wizard of Seattle

The Wizard of Seattle
by Kay Hooper
paperback from Bantam Books 1993

I was looking for something light and fluffy... something I wouldn't have to think much about as I read it. It had been a long week, and I was looking forward to a busy weekend. So I went to my little pile of romance novels and picked out this one -- "The Wizard of Seattle". I figured it combined romance and genre, and would probably be an enjoyably campy little trip into a silly genre romance, and should be exactly what I was looking for.

What I *got* was a pleasant surprise.

Many romance authors who crossover into genre fiction (sf or fantasy) tend to get pretty campy. The fantasty names no one can pronounce. The really hyped up strange plotlines.

This one didn't. Yeah, its still a romance novel. I wouldn't go saying its great high fantasy. But it was good, and it wasn't campy.

Serena shows up on Richard Merlin's doorstep in Seattle when she is 16 years old. She's running and terrified and something has drawn her to him -- his power as a Master Wizard calling to her own innate power that she doesn't understand. And Richard... despite that he knows that the laws say that women should not be trained as wizards... accepts her as his Apprentice, and keeps her secret for the next 25 years.

When her presence is discovered by the Council of Wizards, Richard chooses to take the two of them back in time rather than strip Serena of her powers. He knows that she would never survive being normal -- her powers are too much of a part of who she is. So instead they go back to Atlantia, before the city was destroyed, in order to find out why females were banned as wizards.

As always, it does precede as a romance novel, and for that, it is fairly predictable, including the antagonist (the overly libidinous Varian) and the heroine's near misses with being caught by him. But the thing that makes it different is that throughout it all, the fantastic parts are taken as a matter of course. Serena doesn't make a big deal out of being a wizard, nor does it suddenly seem somehow strange and mysterious. Serena simply *is* a wizard. And the matter of face attitude is what makes it a good book.

The ending is happy, of course. Aren't all romance novels supposed to end happily? But more importantly, I didn't want to put it down... I wanted to keep reading, and in fact, kept sneaking in a page or two until I was done today, despite having company. And *that* means I liked it.

Posted by Deb Atwood at September 14, 2002 10:54 PM | TrackBack
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