I now blog over at The Eyre Guide! This blog is an archive of my past posts.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Review: The Magicians and Mrs. Quent

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
The Magicians and Mrs. Quent
by Galen Beckett
Amazon  /  Goodreads

Plot Summary:

Galen Beckett weaves a dazzling spell of adventure and suspense in an evocative world of high magick and genteel society–a world where one young woman discovers that her modest life is far more extraordinary than she ever imagined.

Of the three Lockwell sisters–romantic Lily, prophetic Rose, and studious, book-loving Ivy–it’s Ivy, the eldest, who’s held the family together after their father’s silent retreat to the library upstairs. Everyone blames Mr. Lockwell’s malady on his magickal studies, but Ivy still believes–both in magick and in its power to bring her father back.

Yet it is not until Ivy takes a job with the reclusive Mr. Quent that she discovers the fate she shares with a secret society of highwaymen, revolutionaries, illusionists, and spies who populate the island nation of Altania. It’s a fate that will determine whether Altania faces a new dawn–or an everlasting night.


This was a very interesting read for me because the beginning of the book was so slow, and sets up these characters that I felt very little connection to (except for book-loving Ivy).  I would have liked this book better I think if it was all from Ivy's perspective, as it does switch in the middle to her first person POV.  It was a strange way to set up the story I thought, but with all the awkward set-up, this story does blossom after about 100 pages, and becomes a very fascinating examination of character with an ominous Gothic atmosphere.  I almost felt like the first third of the book was very Austen-esque, while the middle was Bronte-esque (a la Jane Eyre), and the last third wrapped up these two disparate tones with an exciting conclusion.

The first section of the novel, sets up the world of Altania, and the somewhat bewildering world-building which involves a magical society of magicians, illusionists and witches - some of whom people no longer believe in, but they do actually exist, or they think of them as evil or something.  I wasn't sure how all this came to be. The story sets up three separate main characters - Ivy and her family, Mr. Rafferdy, a well to do, insouciant member of the upper class, and his friend, Eldyn, a down on his luck member of the gentry.  While they all had their dramas, I felt the story jumped around between them so much, that it was hard to feel invested in their concerns for the most part.  Although Ivy and her wish to help her father was the strongest aspect.

I was personally more invested in the Bronte-esque section with Ivy and Mr. Quent, so I want to highlight what I found so enjoyable about that section.  Since Ivy was my favorite character in the book, it was great to see her cope with her new situation, far from home and dealing with two children who can apparently see something others can not.  This section was darker and more suspenseful, and I felt dug deeper character-wise than the previous 100 pages of the book did into the myriad of characters we were introduced to.  The setting and the atmosphere seemed more straightforward as well, and I better understood what was at stake for the characters.  Even though Mr. Quent had his household had their secrets.  I feel like it's so rare for me to be so in love with a book after such an unappealing beginning, but I'm happy to say that was exactly the case.

With all the character introductions finished, the last third of the book goes back to the characters introduced in the beginning and we see the changes their decisions have made in their lives.  That was an intriguing aspect of the book as well, since everything really started coming together, and the stakes became a bit clearer for each of the three main characters's stories.  It was hard to put the book down, because so many things were happening, and the pace of the action was perfect.  The book finished beautifully, with a satisfying conclusion, but still some questions and room for development for the rest of the series.  I think this could be a fantastic series on the whole, despite the awkward start, so I highly recommend this detailed and intriguing, Regency-esque fantasy with strongly written characters.

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