Book Review: The Wizard’s Map by Jane Yolen

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This first book of the Tartan Magic trilogy begins with three American children arriving in Scotland for a family visit. Older siblings Peter and Jennifer – twins who couldn’t be less alike – may be surprised to find their mother’s hometown stuffed with real magic, but three-year-old Molly isn’t surprised at all.

Unfortunately, it is Molly who discovers a map belonging to the evil sorcerer Michael Scot. Though they scarcely believe that magic is real, the twins realize that it is up to them – mostly, up to Jennifer – to save their sister, and their whole family, from a wizard who needs only the map to unleash his terrible power on the world.

Yolen pays out her yarn in rapid, lean, no-nonsense style, while at the same time filling the imagination with threatening woods, strange creatures, spooky apparitions, and a family’s love – particularly the love between close twin siblings who are, just now, really beginning to grow apart. Learn from my mistake, however. Don’t let yourself get caught up in the momentum before you can secure the remaining two books of the trilogy: The Pictish Child and The Bagpiper’s Ghost.