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Title: Mairelon the Magician
Series: Magic and Malice #1
Author: Patricia Wrede
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Kim, a 16 year old street rat is realizing she can no longer hide the fact that she’s a girl. She takes on a final job of spying on a market magician to earn enough money to give her time to figure out what she can do. She is caught but instead of being punished, Mairelon offers her a job of being his apprentice, as he is a real magician and not a street performer.
It becomes obvious to Kim that Mairelon is MUCH more than just a magician though. His references to his time abroad, his connections to various muckety-mucks make Kim aware that Mairelon has been working for the government on the highest levels. And he’s some sort of lord as well.
The story centers around the recovery of the Saltash dinner ware. A platter, a bowl and 4 balls, which when combined, give the user the ability to compel their victims to tell the absolute truth. The British government wants it but will settle for it not falling into French hands. Kim and Mairelon are chasing down the platter in this story and have lots of adventures.
In the end, it is revealed that Kim has a natural affinity for magic and Mairelon adopts her as his ward so he can live in the same house to teach her magic without scandalizing “Society”.
I originally read the Mairelon duology (I’ll be reading book 2 in a month or so) back in the 90’s when the Science Fiction Book Club released a hardcover omnibus edition. I still own that baby. I then re-read the duology in 2000 when I was beginning my record keeping. I won’t be bothering to include a link, as it consists of just naming what genre the book was in 😀
This is that elusive middle grade book that is written well enough to still be read and enjoyed by adults. Wrede seems to excel at that particular skill.
Fun, enjoyable, easy on the brain (well, except when Mairelon or somebody else starts monologuing and connecting all the dots) and a sure fire pleasure for fans of Regency Era England. My guess is that Wrede was aiming for “Jane Austen with Magic for Kids”. She hit the mark, that is for sure. Since I’m a big Austen fan, this worked fantastic.
Unfortunately, the one downside to this book, which isn’t really a big thing, is the cover. That is supposed to be Kim on the cover, in her “street urchin boy” disguise. While it is tough to see in the small picture I include here, when I look at it in a larger format, it becomes really horrible. Kim has this squinty, “something” look where her eyes are just messed up. It’s unpleasant to look at. Plus, the byline of “Is it possible? Could his magic …. be real?” is just so wrong. Magicians are a part of the fabric of society in this book, so it would surprise anyone that Mairelon was a real magician.
Those are just quibbles though, because I feel like complaining about something. If you’re a fan of Austen, Regency Era England or Middle Grade Fantasy, go try this book.