The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers has been responsible for advising the government on the use of magic, and supplying said magic, for centuries. But now the magic in England is fading and the newly appointed Sorcerer Royal is the ideal scapegoat; a freed slave without a familiar who was a mere apprentice to his predecessor.
If I had been relying on reading a sample, in all honesty I probably wouldn’t have picked it up. The faux-Regency style of writing is a little hard to get into if you’re not used to it and the initial characters come across as rather stuffy. Yet if you read on, you see that it is just setting up the world that the brilliant Prunella must endure.
The story really starts to come into its element with the introduction of Mrs. Daubeney’s School for Gentlewitches. It is forbidden for women to practice magic, the excuse being that their bodies are too frail to handle its power. Yet there are doubles standards and the working classes household spells are overlooked. Yet those born of status must have the magic sternly taught out of them.
The inmates of every good girls’ school are perpetually on the brink of expiring from boredom, and you would stir them up nicely.
Prunella is an orphan brought up by Mrs Daubeney and has taught herself plenty of magic whilst also teaching the opposite at the school. Yet when a potential diplomatic incident breaks out, Prunella grabs her chance to escape to London and make something of her life.
Zacharias comes across a lot older than he is, although maybe this is just the period, where youngsters were considered grown up at a much younger age than they are now. He is also quite formal and hard to warm to, but I could certainly sympathise with his situation. He is fighting against the establishment and their prejudice just as much as Prunella. He just wasn’t that great a character and could have done with more development and emotion.
A mix of adventure, pompous society and a splash of humour; it’s a solid debut, with some room for improvement. I reckon if you like books such as Emma Newman’s Split Worlds trilogy and The Invisible Library, this’ll be up your street.
Sorcerer to the Crown is published by Tor and will be available in hardback and ebook editions from 10th September 2015. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.
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Also reviewed @ Nocturnal Book Reviews
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.