A Wizard Alone - Diane Duane I read this book as an unabridged audiobook not realizing I was entering headfirst into a long running series. Despite my complete lack of knowledge about the previous five books events my enjoyment of the book wasn't lessoned by bouts of confusion which says a lot for the talent of the author. Yeah, there were a few gaps here and there but nothing I couldn't get past or figure out by continuing to read along.

Kit Rodriquez is a young wizard (as I'm sure everyone but me already knows), who along with his talking dog Ponch, are attempting to figure out why it is taking so long for a potential wizard to complete his Ordeal (something that must be done, apparently, before he can become a full blown wizard). As they investigate and eventually enter the boys' mind, Kit learns that Darryl is autistic and witnesses shocking moments of violence upon the young defenseless boy that are perpetrated by The Lone Power. Both Kit and Ponch, especially, are shocked and determined to reach the boy, even if it means entering the strange and dangerous worlds inside Darryl's mind.

Kit's best friend and usual partner in wizardry, Nita, has her own set of troubles. The death of her beloved mother has sent her family members and herself into a deep depression. Dad and Nita's sister are having a difficult time getting out of bed and it's up to Nita to keep them moving through life even if she has to resort to magic to do it. It's so easy and tempting to drown in sadness, as Nita acknowledges, but she's taken it upon herself to keep her remaining family intact. As if that weren't more than enough to bear, she's also been plagued by some very odd dreams involving clowns. Eventually her dreams get her involved with Kit's current dilemma with The Lone Power and Darryl.

This book was great from beginning to end. The plot was interesting and it was a tremendously emotional read. Nita's grief and efforts to keep plodding through life with the glimmer that maybe someday things wouldn't hurt quite so much were written with realism. Even Ponch, the dog, has some surprisingly emotional revelations and reactions to the things he's seeing. Kit's a plucky young character who is easy to like but it's strong and insightful Nita's story that will stick with me for some time to come. There's also enough humor mixed in to prevent the story from becoming overly gloomy. I particularly enjoyed Ponch's take on things and Kit's interactions with a prickly DVD player and its antagonistic remote control.

I'm definitely going to locate the other books in the series to catch up on what I've missed.