Skip to main content

The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas, illustrations by Antonio Javier Caparo, 448 pp RL 4

The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas is the first in a trilogy and reminds me very much of Angie Sage's Septimus Heap series from its square shape to to it's map of the town and guide to the characters at the end of the story, as well as wonderful illustrations by Antonio Javier Caparo. Both series can serve as the perfect bridge between shorter chapter books and popular, more intense series like Cornelia Funke's Inkworld trilogy or the Harry Potter Series. Where the books differ is in their imaginary settings. While Angie Sage's series has a distinctly medieval, fairy-tale like feel, Sarah Prineas' has a more Victorian air to it, the narrator sometimes using mellifluous phrases like "quick dart" and "skip-tripping."

In what has to be one of the best first lines to a fantasy novel I have read in a while, the narrator, Connwaer, tells us that, "A thief is a lot like a wizard." As his description at the back of the book reads, Conn is a "master pickpocket, a superb lock-picker and lover of biscuits and bacon." His story begins when he picks the pocket, out of pure curiosity, of Nevery Flinglas, a wizard who has recently returned to Wellmet after a twenty year exile. Conn steals his locus magicalicus, the stone through which the free flowing magic in the town of Wellmet can be harnessed. Anyone else attempting this fear would be killed or severely harmed by the powerful magical object, but not Conn. Sensing he could be useful, Nevery takes Conn to the chophouse and feeds him the first warm, filling meal Conn has had in a long time. From there the two, along with the menacing, burly servant Benet, form an uneasy alliance, which they will need.

The magic in Wellmet, which keeps the werelights glowing and the factories running, among other things, has been dissipating. The Magisters, admitting Nevery back into their fold, search for answers to this dilemma. At the same time, Nevery is realizing that Conn has some natural talent, power actually, of his own when it comes to practicing magic. Hoping to train him, Nevery insists that Conn attend school at the Academicos and learn to read runes - in which a secret message is written at the end of the diary entries of Nevery's that conclude each chapter. There he meets Rowan, the non-magical daughter of the Duchess of Wellmet, Willa Forestal. Conn learns to read with great speed and finds himself with the task of discovering his own locus magicalicus and the source of the waning magic in thirty days. Where he finds is and the power it possesses comes as a great surprise to all. And, despite his best intentions, Conn learns that his shady past keeps the people he respects most from trusting him at times.

Conn has an entrancing narrative voice. He is a quick learner and his voracious appetite for biscuits is well documented. A copy of Benet's delicious recipe for biscuits, as well as Conn's not-so-delicious, is in the back of the book along with some other great extras. The character of Nevery and his diary entries, as well as the mysteries surrounding his exile, are interesting. The spells sometimes practiced in The Magic Thief sound similar to science experiments and in the next book, The Magic Thief: Lost, new in hardcover, the scientific nature of magic plays a much larger role in the story, as do explosions...



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!

Be…