Wizard’s Hall: Exploring the DNA of Spell Sweeper

Here’s another book that served as inspiration for Spell Sweeper . . . Wizard’s Hall by Jane Yolen. 

While writing Spell Sweeper, I read or re-read different books about wizard schools or “magical learning.” The big one, of course, is Harry Potter, but Wizard’s Hall actually predates the creation of Hogwarts by several years.

Wizard’s Hall is about a boy named Henry with “unmanageable” hair, green eyes, and a perpetual smudge on his nose—as if the nose “led him into trouble.” Well, Henry ends off going to a school of Wizardry in the English countryside. He doesn’t fit in at first, making a mess of even simple spells—but he makes a couple of good friends and, together, they end up thwarting an evil sorcerer who is trying to take over the school and “lands beyond.” 

This book obviously has the same basic premise of Harry Potter, but it’s the world-building of Hogwarts, with all the classes, spells, and creatures, that I think make it so appealing. Still, if you’re a fan of books with magical schools—or, really, children’s lit in general—then I recommend Wizard’s Hall because I think it’s always good to understand and explore the DNA of more current fantasy works.

As for Spell Sweeper, I wanted to honor many of the classic wizard school tropes, but try to provide a quirky twist, almost a gentle satire. The magical school in Spell Sweeper is called Dragonsong Academy—sorry, it’s located in Canada, not England—and it has a lot of the same fun details of those British schools: fun classes (Spellography, Oology, Wizard Yoga), intriguing creatures (squix!), and fantastical talismans (Eurybia’s Torch—but, uh, please stand back). 

Spell Sweeper is available in hardbound, digital, and audiobook formats from your favorite outlet.

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