Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Gifted Guest Post: Donald Hounam's Top 5 Wizards!

The Bishop of Oxford is very, very dead. At least the police think it’s the Bishop – it’s impossible to be sure, since someone has made off with his head. Fifteen-year-old Frank Sampson is the forensic sorcerer on the case. But he is easily distracted. By Kazia, the supposed victim’s beautiful, and possibly dangerous, niece. By Marvo, his police colleague, who seems dead set on making his life difficult. By the terror that he's losing his Gift – the ability to work magic. And by all those stupid rules which get in the way of proving that everybody is wrong about the case . . . except Frank.

Gifted was published in the UK on January 29th by Corgi Children's, and it sounds right up my street! I'm a big fan of wizards and the like so I can't wait to read this.

Donald has written a great guest post for me, all about his favourite wizards. I hope you enjoy reading it, and big thanks to Donald for writing it!


Five Favourite Wizards
by Donald Hounam

1. In Black Easter, by James Blish, Theron Ware is a black magician hired to release all the demons from hell for one night, just to see what happens…
Blish’s stated aim was to describe ‘what real sorcery actually had to be like if it existed’. Ware’s techniques — and the demons he summons — are closely based on the grimoires: the working manuals of the Christian magical tradition. He is an admirably dedicated, hard-working professional.   
2. By contrast, Mr Abney in MR James’s short story Lost Hearts, is an obsessive amateur. I was given a copy of James’s Ghost Stories of an Antiquary when I was eight. This was the spookiest story in a very spooky collection; it still haunts me, every time I read it. Abney is a sinister, chuckling nutcase; his victims are, for me, the most disturbing of all ghostly apparitions. 
3. Joseph Curwen in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, by HP Lovecraft, is an eighteenth century wizard, resurrected more than a century after his death to resume his magical activities. No messing about: he’s simply a very nasty piece of work, with an unpleasant sideline in vampirism. 
4. Simon Magus appears briefly in the New Testament as a sorcerer who approaches the apostles and tries to buy the secret of bestowing the Holy Ghost through the ritual of baptism. 
He was the archetypal sorcerer: a con man with genuine magical powers. Sadly, he came to a very sticky end when he claimed to be able to fly. In fact it was invisible demons who carried him through the air… until the apostle Peter spoiled the fun by praying to God to bring Simon down to earth with a bump. 

5. Who shall we stick in at number five? Harry Potter? Gandalf? Both a bit dull-boring-dull. And I doubt if Kitchen Wizard, an app that ‘gives you recipes with ingredients you already have’, really counts…
So let’s go for The Wicked Witch of the West, in The Wizard of Oz, if only for the snappy alliteration and the bright green skin.

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