Tuesday, 5 October 2010

A Most Improper Magick, Stephanie Burgis: A Most Proper Read

"I was twelve years of age when I chopped off my hair, dressed as a boy, and set off to save my family from impending ruin. "

A Most Improper Magick follows the ‘unladylike’ adventures of Kat Stephenson as she attempts to save her family from financial ruin whilst winning her sisters’ true loves. After Kat’s wayward brother squanders the family’s money on gambling debts, Kat’s stepmother is determined to marry off Kat’s eldest sister to the dangerous yet rich Sir Neville. Kat and her other sister are determined to stop this at all costs even if it means resorting to magic inherited from their dead mother, a notorious witch.

When Kat is catapulted to another world via a magic mirror she is shocked to learn the extent of her mother’s powers as a Guardian in a secret Order. Even more startling is the claim that Kat is her mother’s heir. Kat rejects the order that tried to thwart her parents’ marriage but cannot escape from the magic mirror and her
mother’s tutor who are intent on her joining.

Events culminate at Grantham Abbey where Kat gets some very unwelcome interest from the sinister Sir Neville, her mother’s tutor continues to hound her, her sisters dismiss her despite her best efforts to entice their true loves and to top it all off a dangerous highwayman remains on the loose. It takes all of Kat’s wit, ingenuity and a fair amount of magic to try and stay out of trouble.

I loved this book. I thought it was an exciting, adventurous page turner full of the unexpected. Cheeky and plotting Kat Stephenson is a breath of fresh air amidst the stiff Regency society she finds herself in. In an era where ladies make polite conversation and partake in genteel pursuits, Kat isn’t afraid of dressing as a boy,
cheeking her elders, getting into fights or even standing up against a villainous highwayman. The spirited and ‘unladylike’ youngest child, often erroneously overlooked by her elders, Kat is easy to warm to and the reader finds themselves rooting for her from beginning to end. Although probably more of a girls’ book I cannot help but feel that even boys will warm to the unique Kat Stephenson and be intrigued by her world of magic.

Burgis cleverly provides clues and offers us a tantalising glimpse into the magical world Kat enters and the characters that inhabit it to stimulate our interest. It is clear that this magical world and those that belong to it are going to be explained in more depth in the second and third books of the trilogy which I cannot wait for!

If you are after a period drama with a twist, a sprinkling of magic and a thoroughly modern heroine then look no further!

You can get A Most Improper Magick now and the follow up, A Tangle of Magicks will be out in 2011.