The Evil Wizard Smallbone has some competition in the evil department in this book by Delia Sherman. But Nick, the runaway who takes refuge with the old, smelly, grumpy and wicked wizard, has to do some heavy duty sleuthing - and endless chores - to get to the bottom of Smallbone's dastardly behavior.
The setting is backwoods Maine where the coyotes are numerous and the wolves rule the forest - some on motorcycle. The small village of Smallbone Cove depends on the evil wizard for their protection against, what, exactly? Here is part of the mystery. Another part is why so many of Smallbone Cove's residents look so similar and how some of the residents can be as old as they say they are.
An odd mix of werepeople, selkie legends, the reversing of spells, and ancient badness come together in a delightful fantasy. I loved the ending. And I thoroughly enjoyed the ride there. I also liked the smart alecky books that plague Nick as he searches for answers. That boy is too curious.