Wilf doesn’t want to be a wizard. He just wants to play soccer. But his wizard father evaporates, his ruby ring transfers to his son’s hand, and magical adventure is afoot. The idea of the Pulch Virus — short for Pulchritude, or beauty — which infects witches, shrinking and erasing their hooked noses and warts is great. The story is a layered mystery. Power and ugliness equate among witches. Those with power compliment each other on their warts! — and those who are pretty don’t have power. The theme of a boy mourning his dead mother and his father’s disappearance addresses deep traumas. Issues of trust and mistrust run through the story especially with Wilf’s shifty half-sister Myra and the nasty wizard Hywel. Rebel witches and back-stabbing wizards fight for control. This war could be seen as an apt parallel fro the war between men and women. Enjoyable aspects include the rain charm; the magical thermals; and Wilf’s struggle to gain power, which builds suspense.
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