Diane Duane: Owl Be Home for Christmas

Owl Be Home for Christmas (Young Wizards universe)
by Diane Duane

(fantasy)

Rating: 4½ stars


This is a really cute holiday story, and is the only story set in 2020 that I have been able to bring myself to read this year. (It does reference the pandemic; no story this definitively about this year could avoid that. But the focus is on the owl and the tree, and not the virus.) I think my enjoyment of the story was partly because I’ve seen pictures of Rocky and had no problem imagining her as I read. But also, it’s a fun story, and—though Duane says “forget the heartwarming”—you know going in that it will have a happy ending.

I think it helps if you are familiar with the Young Wizards universe before reading this story, but you don’t have to be up-to-date on the main novels. (I haven’t read all of them yet, and it’s been a long time since I’ve read any of the main series, so I have forgotten most of the events in it. That didn’t hinder my enjoyment of this story.) For example, though, I have read enough stories in this universe to know when The Lone Power (aka evil) makes an appearance, and to recognize when the owl is being given the opportunity to take The Wizard’s Oath. I do think you would be able to pick that out in the story without already knowing it, but if you read this, you’ll have to be okay with Rocky (who is not named in this story) becoming a kind of wizard.

She was full. She had shelter and time to rest. Everything was fine again.

…Except for one thing. It was an ache inside her, like being hungry; but it seemed to the owl that nothing she could catch or eat would assuage it. It was a soreness, a painful again-and-again rasp at the edges of her being, like being thirsty: but nothing she could drink would slake it. It was the one thing that had been perfect, but was perfect no longer: gone beyond ever getting back. Of all things wrong with the world, it was the most wrong.

Her tree was gone.

Before, she had not had words. Before, she hadn’t known what words were, and she still had no name for them. But now (without knowing that she was knowing, really) the words for how to speak her anguish and anger to the world came to her.

I. Want. My. Tree. Back!

But really… what else do I need to say about it? It’s a touching holiday story. It features an adorable (but pissed-off) owl. And it has supporting characters pulled from our favorite Young Wizards stories (and if it helps, those supporting characters are a very diverse cast). If you only read one story written about 2020, make it this one.

If you’re interested in reading this book, you can purchase it here. If you want to read more about the story behind the writing of the story, Diane’s blog post about that is here.


Plot Summary:

Tonight’s the night when the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is about to be lit in an elaborate ceremony in midtown Manhattan. Like everything else in the COVID-stricken world of 2020, this tree lighting has been forced to differ from all the others that have preceded it.

But there’s another reason this particular tree lighting will be unique. This tree is the one in which the tiny saw-whet owl the media christened “Rocky” was discovered, trapped, when the tree was set up two weeks ago.

The humans who helped “Rocky” and released her back into the wild had no idea of the forces about to be unleashed on New York City. For the one thing they couldn’t give the owl was the one thing she wanted most: her tree.

As a result, she’s been forced to take matters into her own claws. And it’s going to take a crack team of New York’s best and smartest wizards to keep the ensuing events from destabilizing the whole planet…

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