Thursday, August 7, 2008

Review of The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas

This stubby book, somewhat short and thick and with a jacket that makes it look like an ancient, leather-and-metal-bound tome, outwardly resembles many other recent fantasies – Angie Sage’s Septimus Heap books, for example. And sure enough, there are many familiar elements. An orphan street kid named Conn discovers (after attempting to steal wizard Nevery’s locus magicalus) that he has some latent magical ability and becomes Nevery’s servant/apprentice. Meanwhile, magic is ebbing at a frightening and mysterious rate in their city of Wellmet, and Nevery and Conn have different ideas about what might be causing it – not to mention what the very nature of magic might be.

Surprise! Prineas has taken a somewhat shopworn formula and made it fresh and vibrant. Conn is tenacious and spunky, as befits a kid who has grown up on the street, and he is also both likable and “true.” I believed in and rooted for him all the way. Nevery is gruff and too focused on his work to pay much attention to Conn, so although he is a decent sort, there is never any annoying sentimentality. Benet, the hired Tough Guy who doubles as Cook, mostly just growls – but he must possess a soft spot somewhere in his grizzled old heart, for he knits Conn a sweater and fixes the broken window in his dismal attic room.

One interesting feature is Conn’s growing certainty that magic is a living sentient being rather than a resource or force (as Nevery and his fellow wizards believe). We don’t learn why Conn is so adamant about this or what the ramifications are, so perhaps this will be explored in a sequel.

Kids ages 9 to 12 will likely enjoy this better-than-average fantasy.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Eva--

    Thanks for posting a review of MT and for checking in on my LJ. Good to see you there!

    I really can't wait to read Laurel's Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains. I read her second book in draft, and it's great fun.