Review: Jinx by Sage Blackwood

Thursday, March 14, 2013
Title: Jinx
Author: Sage Blackwood
Genre: middle grade, fantasy
Series: N/A
Pages: 368 (digital ARC)
Published: January 2013
Source: publishers via edelweiss
Rating: 3.75/5

In the Urwald, you don’t step off the path. Trolls, werewolves, and butter-churn riding witches lurk amid the clawing branches, eager to swoop up the unwary. Jinx has always feared leaving the path—then he meets the wizard Simon Magnus.

Jinx knows that wizards are evil. But Simon’s kitchen is cozy, and he seems cranky rather than wicked. Staying with him appears to be Jinx’s safest, and perhaps only, option. As Jinx’s curiosity about magic grows, he learns to listen to the trees as closely as he does to Simon’s unusual visitors. The more Jinx discovers, the more determined he becomes to explore beyond the security of well-trod paths. But in the Urwald, a little healthy fear is never out of place, for magic—and magicians—can be as dangerous as the forest, and soon Jinx must decide which is the greater threat.

Sage Blackwood introduces a daring new hero for an innovative new world as Jinx is joined by friends, battles enemies, and discovers life beyond—and even within—the forest is more complex than he can imagine, and that the Urwald itself needs him more than he could ever guess.

One of the more well-rounded middle grade fantasy novels I've come across, Sage Blackwood's Jinx is a wild ride filled with man-eating trolls, evil wizards, mysterious witches, and forbidden magic. Simple but thoroughly charming, the journey with Jinx and his fellow comrades is a fun, fast-moving and involving read. Though this is clearly aimed at younger readers, this is a novel that is still appealing and entertaining to those outside the target demographic. As someone in my twenties, I had a great time during my admittedly short stay in Urwald.

I had fun with this, but I sadly didn't love it. I felt that the magic and its rules could've been better expanded or explained, and that some of the characters' actions were frustrating. The story is a bit slow to develop, but the disconnect with some of the players was the biggest issue I had. Almost everyone in the novel is weird or funnily eccentric, but their actions can lead to obvious mishaps and delays. It's a minor complaint, but one that kept me from fully enjoying Jinx as I had wanted and anticipated doing. Simon in particular is hard to gauge, and while I appreciate a complex and multi-layered character, I had a hard time whenever he was present on the page.

The two best things about the novel are its main character of Jinx and the enormous, dangerous forest that supplies the setting for the bulk of the novel. Jinx is memorable and daring - two things I love in a main character. He is a capable protagonist and his interactions with two other kids shine. The Urwald is mysterious and thoroughly original. It's a fertile field for the author's imagination and creativity to run free, as Blackwood's does. The book has its moments of whimsy and humor, but it is during the uncertain scenes in the forest that the book succeeds the most. 

If you know a younger fantasy fan searching for a new read, Jinx is your book. If you yourself are a fantasy fan and need something quick and entertaining for a day, Jinx is your book. It's not perfect, but it is more than charming and fun. The ending was a bit anticlimactic for my tastes, but I do think this is a fine debut and will be suitable for all ages of readers.


  1. I really wanted to love this one but ended up not finishing it... it was interesting but far too slow for my liking. I actually gave it to my kids hoping that they'd enjoy it more but they have yet to pick it up. :)

  2. My nine year old and I both enjoyed this one lots!

  3. Sounds like an intriguing world, but I always hesitate about books with so-so characters...the characters are generally the most important part for me!


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