Emily Drake,
The Magickers #2:
The Curse of Arkady

(DAW, 2002)

The adventures of the young Magickers-to-be continue as they start school following their summer at Camp Ravenwyng. This time, they've been warned to beware the "Curse of Arkady" while Gavan, Eleanora and Tomaz Crowfeather search for a Haven so they can set up an academy for further training.

Weirdness continues. Jason's nightmares continue, wolfjackals and sinister characters appear out of nowhere to threaten him, Ting's grandmother suddenly develops cancer which means that Ting has to go with her mother to San Francisco to stay with her, and other assorted mishaps occur. Jason is also forced into a counseling program for the victims of bullies conducted by an odd (and extremely unprofessional) individual. In addition, there's something sinister about the old mansion his stepfather might renovate, not the least of which is that it's the mansion in Jason's nightmares.

Now, at this point, one might think that the adults primarily responsible for the young Magickers might explain just what the curse of Arkady to them.

One would think incorrectly. No one bothers to explain the curse, much less how to "beware" it. Similarly, one of the council members tells Gavan that there is a traitor in his midst, but chooses to be mysterious rather than responsible. I also wondered why it took Tomaz Crowfeather so long to give Stefan an amulet to keep him from changing into a bear at random -- oh wait, it was so we could have a silly chapter where Stefan turns into a bear right before a football game, leaving a frantic Rich to cover for him for the first half of the game.

Drake apparently found she had too many characters, so she managed to either disperse the extraneous or to make them peripheral. Most of the action focuses on Jason, Bailey, Ting and Trent, with the return of Henry Squibb thrown in for good measure. The characters are as two-dimensional as in the first book, except that Bailey's malapropisms were even more annoying. The plot is a string of loosely connected episodes that hang together so sloppily that the book is an insult to the intelligence of the target audience.

The last straw for my patience was all the Harry Potter references delivered with rib-cracking nudges, just in case you didn't get it. I got it, but apparently Drake doesn't. The Magickers series is not the American answer to Harry Potter, and Drake is no J.K. Rowling. Do yourself a favor and reread the Harry Potter books rather than waste precious reading time on this twaddle.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]
Rambles: 22 October 2002

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