Witch and Wizard
by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet is the first in a series of five novels that follow the exploits of siblings Whit and Wisty Allgood. For Patterson, the book, published in 2009, represents another of his numerous multi-volume works, including series involving Alex Cross, Michael Bennett, and the Maximum Ride
novels. The author to first sell more than a million electronic books, Patterson has more than three hundred million copies of his books in print and in 2015 was awarded the National Book Foundation’s Literarian Award for his efforts in encouraging reading as a national priority.
As the story opens, seventeen-year-old Whit and fifteen-year-old Wisty (Wisteria) are accused of being a wizard and a witch. Until this point in their lives, they thought they were normal teenagers. The new regime sends soldiers to arrest them. Byron Swain, an arrogant student from their school, shocks the pair when he shows up and arrests them. They deny the charges, but their efforts prove fruitless. As they are being arrested and taken, their parents are allowed to give each of them one thing to take with them. They are given a book that seems to them to be useless and a drumstick. Adding to their confusion are the flames that shoot from Wisty’s body. A figure unknown to them arrives. He is known as The One Who Is the One and he is familiar with Whit and Wisty’s parents. He is the leader of the New Order, which is a newly formed political party. The children are taken to a prison where all of the others incarcerated are children. They are questioned by Bryan and put on trial conducted by The One Who Judges. The trial results in Whit and Wisty being sentenced to death when they reach the age of eighteen.
Whit’s girlfriend, Celia, who had disappeared under mysterious circumstances, suddenly reappears to him in a dream. She tells Whit and Wisty that she is a Half-light. A Half-light is a spirit from an alternate dimension known as the Shadowland. She gives them instructions on how to enter and exit the Shadowland. Once they arrive in the Shadowland, Celia introduces Whit and Wisty to a boy named Sasha who guides them out of the Shadowland to Freeland and Garfunkle’s, a store that now serves as a refuge for persecuted children. Janine is tending the store, but the leader of the site changes every week. Here, Whit and Wisty slowly learn to understand, use, and trust their powers. In Freeland, the children’s magical powers are accepted. Celia cannot stay with them; if she does not return to the Shadowland, she will soon no longer exist. Meanwhile, the other children share their stories of the terrible things they have experienced, especially at the hands of The One Who Is The One. “The One” it appears, has magic abilities.
The siblings next visit the City of Progress where they find that magic is strictly forbidden. More important than that to Whit and Wisty is their desire to continue searching for their parents. They refuse to remain in Freeland even though when the true extent of their magic powers is made known, they are told a surprising fact. Whit and Wisty are the Liberators whose existence was foretold in a prophecy telling of the end of the New Order. This solidifies a new resolve in them. Their objective now becomes bringing about the downfall of the regime. In weasel-form, Byron tells them that he wants to accompany them. Wisty rejects his request as she sees him as a hateful traitor. Byron tries to convince her that he has changed his ways and apologizes for the way he treated her and her brother when they were in prison. Ultimately she agrees to let him join them
Upon starting on their next adventure, they go through an area that for some reason looks familiar to them, so they begin to explore it. They come to the place where their old home once sat but find that it has been demolished and all that remains is open land. Using magic, Whit and Wisty’s parents are able to communicate with them. The parents help them turn the drumstick and the book into things that will now be of use to them. The drumstick turns into a magic wand and the book becomes a spell book. Wisty’s mother transforms Byron back to human form and tells him to watch over her children. The book ends with Wisty telling the readers of Witch and Wizard
to go live their lives with the promise that they will hear from her again.
Although Patterson has been frequently criticized for being prolific and formulaic, Vanity Fair
magazine reports that the author takes it in stride, “And he is philosophical about his critics, in particular critics of his craft. Patterson decided long ago that he’d rather be a successful popular novelist than a mediocre literary one. He says he thinks of himself above all as an entertainer.”