Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Book Review: Renegade Magic, by Stephanie Burgis

The year is 1803, the place, the elegant city of Bath, and Kat Stephenson is back.

Those of you who read the first in this delightful middle-grade fantasy series will know exactly what to expect: mayhem, magic, and an utterly incorrigible heroine determined to upset just about any apple cart to protect her family and secure her older sisters the loves of their lives.

After Kat's sister, Angeline, is publicly exposed as a witch, Stepmama knows there's only one thing for it: to whisk the whole family off to Bath and get Angeline a husband before everyone in society finds out. But Angeline has already found the love of her life, even though his mother has forbidden their marriage, and if she's going to be forced to search for a different husband, then she will choose the most inappropriate prospect she can.

And if Kat doesn't have enough to do protecting Angeline from the scandalous rake she has chosen and re-uniting her with her true love, her brother Charles has gotten himself far more serious trouble, and Kat herself has been expelled from the Order of the Guardians and forbidden from using her Guardian magic.

Meanwhile, in the Roman Baths, someone is summoning the wild magic from its source below, and no one will believe Kat. Once again, Kat is the one who is going to have to save the day.

I could probably going on forever about how great the Kat, Incorrigible books are. There's adventure, magic, humor, and a wonderfully realized and accurate historical setting (if you're ever in Bath, you could easily follow Kat's trail from the Royal Crescent to the Assembly Rooms and the Pump Room and Roman Baths). But what makes this book stand out from the crowd is the characters.

There's Charles, the older brother sent down from Oxford for gambling and drunkenness, Stepmama with her utter determination to present a respectable front to the world, Papa who retreats to his books at the slightest sign of conflict, Angeline who is stubborn to the point of self-destruction, and my new favorite character, Lucy, full of absurd romantic ideas and a surprising taste for adventure. And there's Kat herself, impetuous, loyal, and ready to leap into danger with scarcely a thought.

In another author's hands, these characters could be one-dimensional, but Stephanie Burgis handles them with love and gives them a complexity that makes them effortlessly likeable. Even Stepmama is sympathetic.

I won't claim to be unbiased in this review, but if you love fantasy and adventure, or a love for Jane Austen's novels, then you won't be disappointed by this wonderful series.

Renegade Magic is out now as a hardcover in the US and Canada and as a paperback (with the title A Tangle of Magicks) in the UK.

The first book in the series, Kat, Incorrigible, is out now as paperback in the US and Canada and in the UK (with the title A Most Improper Magick).

They are also available as ebooks, of course!

Order Renegade Magic:
From Indiebound | From Barnes and Noble | From

Order Kat, Incorrigible:
From Indiebound | From Barnes and Noble | From

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