Book Review: “Wizard’s Hall” by Jane Yolen

Cover of "Wizard's Hall" by Jane Yolen
Cover of “Wizard’s Hall” by Jane Yolen

I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing “Wizard’s Hall” by Jane Yolen! It’s been a while since I read a book taking place at a magic school or academy, so I was interested to pick this one up and read it

Here’s a quick summary so we know what it’s about:

“Poor Henry. It’s not enough that his mother has sent him away from home to learn magic. It’s not enough that everyone at his new school calls him Thornmallow because he’s “prickly on the outside, squishy within.” It’s not enough that the only talent he shows at Wizard’s Hall is an ability to make messes of even the simplest spells. Now, when Wizard’s Hall is threatened by a cruel sorcerer’s fearsome beast, it is up to Henry–er, Thornmallow–to figure out how to save not only his new friends but also the entire school for wizards.”

Plot Development: 3 out of 5 stars

I thought that the story was fine to read overall. It’s an overall simple plot, but that makes sense given that it’s a book written for fairly young readers. There wasn’t anything that was a standout about it, but nothing that was necessarily bad, either. Since I’m not the intended audience for this book, it makes sense that I might not enjoy this as much as someone this book is aimed toward.

Character Development: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I enjoyed reading Henry/Thornmallow learning to adapt to his new surroundings at Wizard’s Hall, as well as learning how to use magic. He’s not very good at it on a practical basis, but he does get a little better at it as the events of the book move forward.

The rest of the characters were fine to read, but most of the supporting characters were just there to move the plot along rather than have their own personalities. This was unfortunate given how rich the worldbuilding was, and I wanted the worldbuilding and characters to lean on each other a bit more. This could have given at least some characters some more development, if we saw how they were impacted by the worldbuilding.

Worldbuilding Development: 4 out of 5 stars

The worldbuiding was the highlight of the book. I enjoyed learning that you had to cast spells by singing in tune. The monster that everyone had to face looks like a giant quilt (and basically is an actual quilt, just animated). It’s amusing and doesn’t get too serious, though I kind-of expected this given that it’s a book meant for children.

Before anyone starts asking about whether it’s similar to Harry Potter or other books, no. There are no school houses that I can recall reading about, and no school points whatsoever. Wizard’s Hall is its own unique school compared to those other books, and I think it’s for the best that it is.

Overall, I’m rating this book out 3.5 of 5 stars!

This was a fine book to read overall. If you enjoy reading books involving magical schools, you might enjoy reading “Wizard’s Hall!”


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