Sunday, 17 October 2010

A Most Improper Magick, Stephanie Burgis: Why Mr. Darcy, you've Turned Me into a Frog

Reddditt! (Worst frog joke ever).
A Most Improper Magick follows the burgeoning adventures of Kat Stephenson the youngest daughter of a vicar and a witch. Kat's an impetuous and independent girl as demonstrated at the very start of the book where she is running away from home dressed as a boy (Kat is pretty close to Kate so I have wondered if there is a Blackadder influence...). With the loss of the family fortune by her prodigal brother Kat decides to try to restore her families wealth.

Unfortunately for Kat she lives in Pride and Prejudice times (that is the official name for the time period) so is held back in her efforts by society's conventions and a stepmother and two older sisters.

But Kat has one thing in her favour, FABULOUS MAGICAL POWERS!          And the exploration of these powers really drives the story. unlike magic that is learnt from heavy tombs by skinny men until their eyes leak from their skulls, Kat's magick is raw and uncontrolled. Such power draws the attention of several other magical parties.

A Most Improper Magick is a really enjoyable, funny and exciting. Sometime's your left (nearly) shouting at Kat to not be so daft but it isn't in an annoying way. Her actions fit in perfectly with her character. In fact the book has the most believable set of characters of the five children's books I've read in this last three weeks.

The story cranks up the tension well to the grand finale. Instead of the usual magical duel with fireballs and people exploding through walls, it is all resolved in a much more unique, interesting and genteel way. It leaves a few strands to be answered in the follow up, which I look forward to reading.

Only draw back is it probably doesn't contain enough explosions etc. to appeal to the majority of boys in the age group it is aimed at. But I think it should be a big hit, I can see it being made into a Sunday evening mini-series thing on the BBC.

A Most Improper Magick is out now and available for around £4-ish. The sequel, A Tangle of Magicks, is out next year. And if you want some other Jane Austen-style fantasy I can heartily recommend Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.



P.S. Stephanie Burgis is very interesting and friendly on twitter. Follow her at @stephanieburgis

P.P.S. No one gets turned into a frog in the book. Not sure if this is a good or bad thing. Hope I haven't ruined it for anyone.