Wizard for Hire by Obert Skye
Fourteen-year-old Ozzy lives near Portland, Oregon, and is desperate for help. His scientist parents have been kidnapped after discovering a formula that enables mind control. Their work was so top secret Ozzy is afraid to go to the police, but without help, he fears he’ll never find his parents. Then he stumbles across a classified ad in the local newspaper that says “Wizard for Hire. Call 555-SPEL.” Ozzy has read about wizards in books like Harry Potter, but wizards couldn’t actually exist today, could they? After Ozzy meets the wizard Labyrinth–aka Rin–he’s even more skeptical.
Sure, Rin dresses like a wizard, but the short robe and high-top tennis shoes seem unorthodox, as does Rin’s habit of writing notes on his shoes and eating breakfast for every meal. Plus, Rin doesn’t even cast any magic spells, which means that the unexplained coincidences that start happening around Ozzy are just that–coincidences.
With the help of a robotic-talking raven invented by Ozzy’s father, a kind and curious girl at school who decides to help Ozzy, and, of course, a self-proclaimed wizard who may or may not have a magical wand, Ozzy begins an unforgettable quest that will lead him closer to the answers he desperately seeks about his missing parents.
Ozzy has lived alone in his home in the woods for years, after his parents were kidnapped. When he sees and ad for a Wizard for Hire, Ozzy seeks the wizard’s help in finding what happened to his parents. Rin doesn’t act or look like the wizards Ozzy has read about, but he’s the one person Ozzy can trust.
Wizard for Hire isn’t exactly a fantasy story, as there isn’t really any magic – other than an intelligent, mechanical bird. This middle grade novel has some wonderfully, colorful characters. While the story starts out a bit slow, as Ozzy grows up on his own and tries to go to school, there is a lot of fantastic character development. And there is still plenty of humor, mystery, adventure, and suspense as the story continues. I thoroughly enjoyed this start to a new series. And I appreciated that there wasn’t a cliffhanger ending and that the story seemed mostly wrapped up. But these characters are a lot of fun, which readers will love to read more about.