Thursday, 2 September 2010

The Magicians And Mrs. Quent - Book Review

By: Galen Beckett

Pros: reminiscent of Regency and Victorian authors, uses a Victorian inspired setting, flows well, literary but the fantasy aspects are fully realized

Cons: story develops a little too slowly

The Magicians And Mrs. Quent is split into three parts. In the first, we are introduced to the major players - the Lockwell girls, of which Ivy is the dominant, Mr. Rafferdy and the upperclass circle he inhabits, and Eldyn Garritt, a gentleman whose father ruined the family name and has left him in dire straits. This part of the novel feels very much like Pride and Prejudice. There's matchmaking among those of unequal backgrounds and much prejudice abounding because of it.

The second part is more like Jane Eyre. I won't say more than that as it would give away a major plot twist. The third part of the novel was entirely original in that it didn't make me think of a Victorian novel, and is designed to tie the other parts together.

The story meanders, following the fortunes of the various players. There is a plot, but you don't really see it until the third segment - though that's not to say it isn't present in the first two. The first two entrance you with their language and the doings of the people so it's not until near the end that you see what the author's been working towards. While the Magicians make a brief appearance in the first part, Mrs. Quent doesn't show up until the end of the second.

And while the setting is Enlightenment/Victorian, it's a fully realized fantasy world. The planet is not earth (the day/night cycle follows an uneven rotation so almanacs are consulted to learn how long each will be). There's history, there are the seeds of revolt and there are the underpinnings of emancipation. Which makes it a unique book among fantasy novels which tend to stick to Medieval worlds.

And it's hard not to read a book that begins, "It was generally held knowledge among the people who lived on Whitward street that the eldest of the 3 Miss Lockwells had a peculiar habit of reading while walking."

If you like Regency or Victorian literature or just want to read a fantasy novel that's a bit different, this is a good choice.

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