Book Review: “An Ocean of Magic” by Stephen Elboz

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An Ocean of Magic
by Stephen Elboz

Here is the fourth of the Kit Stixby adventures, featuring a boy wizard whose best friends are a flying carpet (named Carpet) and Queen Victoria’s favorite grandson (named Henry).

Kit’s father, the Witch Doctor Royal, has been sent to Brazil to collect specimens of rare plants and animals. Kit flies to meet him for the trip home, but terrible news awaits him when he steps off the airship. Dr. Stixby and his meek assistant have gone missing in the Sargasso sea, a place where ships, zeppelins, and even whole islands have been known to disappear.

Fiercely determined to find his Dad, Kit joins another old friend – Mr. Skinner of Scotland Yard – to search the sea. Soon enough the mystery is solved when a monstrous pirate ship literally swallows the ship the boys were on. They come ashore on an island stocked with bakelite trees, fierce mechanimals, and rowdy pirates: a mechanical island, a ship really, created by the very same Stafford Sparks whose evil plans Kit has thwarted one after another.

This time it will take more than one boy wizard’s reckless power and half-baked plans to thwart that criminal genius. For Sparks has invented a terrifying weapon, and he plans to use it to hold the British government to ransom. His first target: a luxury liner containing Dr. Stixby’s priceless botanical specimens and a hold crowded with shipwreck survivors.

Once again, fans of J.K. Rowling will get a kick out of this very different boy wizard. Passionate, volatile, frequently in very high spirits, Kit is a little devil and no mistake. He mangles grammar, neglects his manners, flies fearlessly into danger, and makes it his business to save everybody he can while staying a step or two behind one of the nastiest non-magical villains ever to plague the magical world. Along the way he befriends a nereid, plans a jailbreak and a pirate battle, engineers a novel way to survive a plane crash at sea, and solicits the prayers of a cigar-chomping nun (whose whole convent prays full-time for the safety of pasengers on Catholic Airways, ecclesiastical class). For sheer funniness, it’s hard to beat this fast-paced, eventful tale of magic and adventure.