Published By: Pan Macmillan
Publication Date: 10th September 2015
THE FATE OF ENGLISH MAGIC LIES IN THEIR HANDS… In Regency London, Zacharias Wythe is England’s first African Sorcerer Royal. He leads the eminent Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, but a malicious faction seeks to remove him by fair means or foul. Meanwhile, the Society is failing its vital duty – to keep stable the levels of magic within His Majesty’s lands. The Fairy Court is blocking its supply, straining England’s dangerously declining magical stores. And now the government is demanding to use this scarce resource in its war with France. Ambitious orphan Prunella Gentleman is desperate to escape the school where she’s drudged all her life, and a visit by the beleaguered Sorcerer Royal seems the perfect opportunity. For Prunella has just stumbled upon English magic’s greatest discovery in centuries – and she intends to make the most of it. At his wits’ end, the last thing Zachariah needs is a female magical prodigy! But together, they might just change the nature of sorcery, in Britain and beyond.
The blurb really doesn’t do this book justice. And yet, I’m in two minds about it.
I did enjoy it, that is certain. The plot and characters were interesting, and fun – people fly around on clouds and dragons shapeshift, slumming it as humans. The central mystery has an exciting resolution. Zacharias is weary of his burdens and torn by inner conflict, which he resolves by the end of the novel, and Prunella learns the answer to her own origins, with the help of a lamia named Mek Genggang, who may or may not have been responsible for the cork in England’s supply of magic. It’s an adventure.
I didn’t really feel like I was immersed in the story. The Society is a characateur of Recency era prejudices. The author never really explains why Lorelei went to all the trouble she did, to get revenge on behalf of someone she didn’t like. She felt like a plot device rather than a complex character with motivations to match. Even Prunella, who is clearly drawn as a character has moments of being a Deus Ex Machina. These things kept throwing me out of the story.
That being said, I hope there’s another book with Prunella as Sorceress Royal, herding the thaumaturges of the Society in to the future.