Score: 89/100 (8.9 out of 10)
“The Wand” by Marieke Lexmond is imaginative and fun. It is filled with mystery, wonder, drama between friends and family, and—above all—magic.
Despite what should be pretty high stakes, the plot never seems to become overly dire or serious. It maintains a lighthearted fantasy theme throughout. It seems to be written in the fun and witty spirit of something like Winx Club but with the patient, plodding tempo of Charmed.
With all that said, the book can also be a bit confusing and cluttered. We've read this book about three times, and we can still only guess at the plot.
Our best guess as to what is happening is that a long time ago when the earth was green, there were more kinds of animals than you've ever seen, kicking and splashing while the rain was pouring. Oh, them silly unicorns. There were green alligators and long-neck geese. Some humpty-back camels and some chimpanzees.
And there were also fairies.
And at least one of them was a $&@#. She was probably a Divergent and would've joined Dauntless in another life (so that she could do such productive things as judo-roll out of trains), but people aren't allowed to be unique or different at all. The universe doesn't seem to like that. Unless you count the Irish Potato Famine of 1845-1852... But the universe hates variation like 59% of the time.
Then there were witches and male witches who should be called warlocks or mages but are called witches anyway, and some of them had mad Tarot skills, and some of them probably loved tai chi and yoga too.
Anyway, the powers-that-be—probably a cliquish bunch of highfalutin high school cheerleader fairy witches— decided that not all magical power could be concentrated in one place anymore, so they decided to “like, so totally” split it up throughout the realm in the form of magical objects like a dagger and a wand. Some malevolent being who may or may not be idolized by the protagonists—a coven of witches including Maeve, Tara, Seamus, Bridget, and Lucy (some of whom are coincidentally twins)—wants to seize Rumplestilskin's Dagger so that she can control the Dark One along with the Wand of Wisdom. Why? So that she can have.. all the wisdom... and stuff.
And also, one of the main characters, Maeve, is a Siren, and she has her own existential crisis to deal with, an issue she probably copes with in her spare time by looping Evanescence over and over (cause Amy Lee is bae). Seriously though, Maeve is one of the top three best things about this book. She is legitimately a cool character. Despite her great power and enhanced abilities due to being a Siren, she remains psychologically vulnerable and drawn to protect people like her much-less-cool twin sister, Bridget, her my-heart-will-always-love-you boyfriend, Owen, but more importantly her cute dog, Bouncer.
Do you remember that video that went viral of the guy whose dog was being assaulted by the kangaroo, so he walked up to the kangaroo, put up his dukes, and took a swing at it? That's literally how this book begins, and the hilarity and level of entertainment is astronomical. It's in the astral plane! Maeve takes on an alligator to save Bouncer, and the plot can wait, Mab's master plan to become the mistress of all evil can wait, the fate of the universe and all we know can wait, because all that matters is Bouncer. If Bouncer dies, we rage quit. There is no world without Verona walls or Bouncer.
And that Romeo & Juliet reference isn't entirely out of left field because it supplies us with some background knowledge on the main villain, Queen Mab, a legendary fairy from Celtic folklore. According to Mercutio in Romeo & Juliet, Queen Mab is a wicked hag who loves to prey on people with dreams and visions of love and lust, eventually leading to their destruction. Mab plays a similar role in “The Wand” (at least in terms of being a master manipulator) which accounts for the other great thing about this book: having a clear main villain who is actually doing villainous stuff.
Can we just stop to say that the names of these characters are unintentionally hilarious. We don't know if the author was aware of it when she was writing, but some of these names evoke other images in the collective pop consciousness. For example, Lockwood makes us think of Flint Lockwood, the failed scientist from “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” Seamus makes us think of Sheamus, the wrestler from the WWE. O'seachnasaigh sounds like the name of the principal from the now-infamous Substitute Teacher sketch (“take your @$$ to O-shag-hennesey's office!”). Neumann makes us think either of Jerry's nemesis from Seinfeld (“hellooooo, Newman...”) or the salsa brand that supposedly donates all its profits to charity. We were cracking up almost every other time we read a name from this book because all we could do was associate the names with these other things.
Ultimately, we have a book with at least one “Best Character” and one “Best Villain” candidate. Those are two big pluses. Also, the writing is solid. It's fun and funny in both intentional and unintentional ways.
We can definitely recommend you at least check it out!