Here’s another book that served as inspiration for Spell Sweeper . . . The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White.
Like many, I was first introduced to this story through the animated film by Disney (one of my all-time favorite scenes is the duel between Merlyn and Madame Mim). The book includes this duel, though it’s much earlier on, so doesn’t serve as a climactic moment.
I think The Sword in the Stone is one of those foundation stones for modern fantasy books. When it comes to wizards and owls, we can’t help to think of Harry Potter, but long before Hedwig, there was Archimedes, who served as Merlyn’s familiar (and was my favorite character in both the film and the book).
You also have the visual aesthetic of Merlyn with the long white beard, which goes on to be found with so many other wizard characters (Dumbeldore included). I tried to make fun of this trope with Cara’s master in Spell Sweeper, Trick Quibble. Instead of the long white beard, he has only a single chin hair (yes, it’s long, but singular), which kind of annoys Cara because it’s as if Quibble has never read a fantasy book.
What I also love about The Sword in the Stone is Merlyn as a teacher. He isn’t simply teaching spells or tricks, but philosophy to young would-be-king Arthur. I tried to bring in a bit of this to Spell Sweeper, especially with Headwizard Singh’s enigmatic paradoxes that she introduces to Cara.
Whether you are a reader or a writer of fantasy (or both!), I highly encourage you to read this foundational book.
Spell Sweeper is available in hardbound, digital, and audiobook formats from your favorite outlet.