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Review: The Wizards of Once 01: The Wizards of Once

Rating: 4 out of 5.


This is the story of a young boy Wizard and a young girl Warrior who have been taught to hate each other like poison; and the thrilling tale of what happens when their two worlds collide.

Perfect for boys and girls who love fantasy adventure …

Once there was Magic, and the Magic lived in the dark forests.

Wizard boy, Xar, should have come in to his magic by now, but he hasn’t, so he wants to find a witch and steal its magic for himself. But if he’s got any chance of finding one, he will have to travel into the forbidden Badwoods.

Xar doesn’t realise he is about to capture an entirely different kind of enemy. A Warrior girl called Wish.

And inside this book, at this very moment, two worlds collide and the fate of the land is changed forever. Xar and Wish must visit the dungeons at Warrior fort, and face the evil Queen.

But something that has been sleeping for hundreds of years is stirring…


This was just excellent. I was a little afraid Cowell was going to turn out another series where the characters are essentially the same as the first with just their names changed, as happens with many authors (Percy Jackson and Magnus Chase being a prime example). However I am delighted to report that this was not the case.

While I missed my old friends Hiccup and Toothless, I deeply enjoyed new characters Xar and Wish and am eagerly awaiting their next adventure.

The world building is also first rate here. I am always amazed at how easily Cowell can build a world that feels so distinctly real without even seeming to try.

I found it refreshing how realistic the parental relationships are. Often in children’s and YA fiction “mean” parents are just a easy excuse for the main characters to be free of authoritative restraints to go off on adventures. Here the parent-child relationship is realistically complex and adds a layer of depth and emotion to a story that might otherwise be a little generic.

Last, and with no surprise, David Tennant of course did an absolutely superb job with the audiobook and I really appreciated the occasional use of sound effects. They added a nice touch to the audiobook, especially since the physical edition has pictures.