Twice Magic by Cressida Cowell science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsTwice Magic by Cressida Cowell

Twice Magic by Cressida Cowell science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsThe second book in Cressida Cowell‘s WIZARDS OF ONCE series does everything a good sequel should: expand the world, develop the characters, and deepen the story. As we discovered in The Wizards of Once, Ancient Britain is inhabited by two distinct races: the Wizards, who live among the magical creatures of the forest, and the Warriors, who are armed with iron weapons, the only metal that can repel magic.

In the first book, we met Xar and Wish, two young people who’ve grown up on each side of this conflict. Xar is the rather arrogant and vainglorious youngest son of the King Wizard, Encanzo, while Wish is the more introspective and sweet-natured daughter of Queen Sychorax, leader of the Warriors.

They met by chance in the midst of the forest, and their ensuing adventure led to the release of a terrible Witch upon the world. Having been forcibly separated from their parents, the two try to reunite in order to restart their quest to find the ingredients required for a spell to banish the Witches forever. But how can they do that when Xar is locked up in a magical prison and Wish is trapped behind the walls of her fortress home?

Though I’ve never read any of the HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON books, Cowell seems to have a trademark chatty prose that serves Twice Magic well considering the narrator claims to be a character in the story (but as yet, has not divulged his/her identity).

Sometimes I wish she would write with less of a comedic bent, considering a lot of her material is quite dark and/or poignant. Perhaps a few less pratfalls and talking utensil jokes, and more of the lovely descriptive imagery that brings to life the mysterious forest and its inhabitants.

THE WIZARDS OF ONCE by Cressida Cowell science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsBut there’s a great adventure here, with plenty of magical creatures (from sprites to giants to werewolves) and people from very different worlds working together to defeat a common enemy. The world-building is especially imaginative, from giants that think as slowly as they move, to spell-raiders who specialize in collecting ingredients for magical spells.

Xar and Wish are likeable protagonists (well, Xar still has a massive ego he has to get over) who discover something surprising about their parents during the course of their journey together that will undoubtedly come into play in later books.

Cowell also provides illustrations throughout, which depict the characters as rather spiky, stylized figures that are nevertheless bursting with personality.

In all, Twice Magic is a good second installment, to be followed up with Knock Three Times.

Published in 2018. From the bestselling author of How to Train Your Dragon comes an exciting high-adventure series–set in a magical time, full of Wizards, Warriors, Giants and Sprites. This was once the story of a young boy Wizard and a young girl Warrior who had been taught since birth to hate each other like poison. But now, the boy Wizard and girl Warrior have been brought together in the Badwoods and they have witnessed the shocking consequences of the Stone That Takes Away Magic. They will need to cast aside their differences once more–for an Evil Spell has broken free. It’s up to Xar and Wish to find the ingredients. But it means entering dangerous territory unannounced… Cressida Cowell brings her trademark wit to this spellbinding sequel, along with the stunning artwork and heartfelt adventure that has made her beloved around the world, weaving a story that is sure to transport readers to a world that will enchant and bewitch them.


  • Rebecca Fisher

    REBECCA FISHER, with us since January 2008, earned a Masters degree in literature at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Her thesis included a comparison of how C.S. Lewis and Philip Pullman each use the idea of mankind’s Fall from Grace to structure the worldviews presented in their fantasy series. Rebecca is a firm believer that fantasy books written for children can be just as meaningful, well-written and enjoyable as those for adults, and in some cases, even more so. Rebecca lives in New Zealand. She is the winner of the 2015 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best SFF Fan Writer.

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