Today’s book is the second in a series, which began with The Magicians and Mrs. Quent (Bantam, 2008). The first was not reviewed in SLJ, but found many fans over the last two years. While it was hailed (and marketed) as a debut novel, that was not quite true. Galen Beckett is a pseudonym for Mark Anthony, who has several fantasy novels to his name, most notably The Last Rune series.
The original conceit of The Magicians and Mrs. Quent series is “What if there was a fantastical cause underlying the social constraints and limited choices that confront a heroine in a novel by Jane Austen or Charlotte Brontë?”
These titles have great potential for both fantasy and romance fans.
Adult/High School–The long-anticipated sequel to The Magicians and Mrs. Quent (2008) features the same older-than-she-should-be cover model, and it’s a shame if that deters younger readers. While Mrs. Quent was a (perfectly executed) mashup–a little Austen (mostly Pride and Prejudice), a little Bronte (mostly Jane Eyre), and a nice dose of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell–this second volume is more original and possibly better than the first. Still full of Regency overtones, the story expands: Rafferdy continues his exploration of magic; his friend Mr. Garritt takes center stage (literally; he joins a group who weave light into plays) and also deals with his burgeoning, tender love for another young man; and Ivy finds herself vaulted to the heights of society and more deeply enmeshed in her own magical heritage and noble plotting than she might have wished, given her desire and tendency to be a bluestocking but otherwise respectable member of society. There is much here to appeal: young characters, a play on familiar tropes and texts, a thwarted romance (Ivy and Rafferdy are clearly meant to be together, but Ivy is also happily married to Mr. Quent, and it’s all so polite and heart-breaking), and some really original magic. The first volume was largely overlooked, but this series (do start with the first) is great for fans from both the romance and fantasy ends of the spectrum. A good booktalk might even convince some paranormal romance fans to try something a bit more sophisticated.–Karyn Silverman, LREI (Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School), New York City