I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Published by HarperCollins on June 3rd 2008
Source: the library
Buy on Amazon
Also by this author: Lost
First in the Magic Thief fantasy series for middle-grade readers and revolving around a young pickpocket with potential.
In 2011, The Magic Thief was nominated for the Iowa Teen Award and also in 2009 for the E.B. White Read-Aloud Award.
This reminds me of Angie Sage’s Septimus Heap series, right down to the book size. Prineas, however, does have a different take on how magic works and who her major protagonist is. I enjoyed her dual first-person protagonist point-of-view with Conn, as it gives us his worldly wise street thief perspective on his world, and Nevery’s perspective provides good back history.
I got pulled in by that first paragraph with Prineas’ combination thought- and question-posing hook. As for changing the font and page background color for Nevery’s notes, that was a handy visual cue that the perspective was changing from Conn’s to Nevery’s. Thank you! I always appreciate an author making it easy for the reader [me!] to stay connected to the story. Although, I could wish the page color hadn’t been quite so dark. Maybe it’s just my old eyes…
Prineas combines the ticking clock scenario with Conn having to “prove” himself with the plot coupon of Conn having to find his magicalicus locus while she beautifully integrates her info dumps throughout the story. There were a few plot twists, but no major issues. Just enough to give the story a bit more interest.
Conn isn’t shy about speaking up for himself or for what he thinks, and Prineas uses the epiphany plot beat with that excellent point Conn makes on the truth about magic.
”Spells are a language and we use it to tell the magic what to do.”
The boy has potential, but Nevery isn’t sure he’s worth the trouble. Nor does Nevery have the time to train an apprentice, not when he must discover why the city is losing its magic.
Although…the boy was able to withstand his locus magicalicus. Hmmm, maybe he should give him a try…
Connwaer “Conn” is between twelve and fourteen years old and a successful lockpick and pickpocket, most of the time. Black Maggie was Conn’s mother and the one who taught Conn how to pick locks.
Nevery Flinglas is a wizard who was banished from Wellmet 20 years ago after an experiment blew up. His locus magicalicus had been his great-great-aunt Alwae’s stone. Benet is hired muscle with a talent for knitting and baking. The house Nevery left behind, Heartsease, is falling to pieces. Lady is the cat.
…one of a loose confederation of cities, the Peninsular Duchies. It runs on magic and is ruled by Willa Forestall, the Duchess of Wellmet, who is based in the Dawn Palace in the well-off Sunrise neighborhood. Captain Kerrn, Farn, Jas, and Merik are guards.
Wellmet Academics is…
…headquartered on the islands which are the homes of the magisters, wizards, if you will. Magister Brumbee is the Master Wizard of the academy and is part of the council along with Periwinkle, Sandera, Pettivox who is also the court liaison, and Trammel, who appears to have some skill with healing.
Lady Rowan Forestal is a regular student at the academy — and the duchess’ daughter — and has been set to mentor Conn. Keeston is Pettivox’s apprentice and a real jerk who has been partnered with Conn.
Underlord Crowe is the crime lord of Wellmet with headquarters in Dusk House which is in the Twilight neighborhood of factories, warehouses, and the poor. He’s also Conn’s uncle.
A locus magicalicus enables a wizard to focus magic and work spells. Slowsilver restrains magic, so a wizard can examine it. Embero is a dangerous spell. Micnu wrote a paper explaining how magic is created; he and Carron have written about magical nodes.
The Cover and Title
The cover is a textured deep and grayed royal blue with embossed gold frames and plaques. The title and author’s name are embossed in a deeper gold inside the plaques — top and bottom respectively. The center, inside its round, gold frame is a graphic of Nevery and Conn, using his street skills along with his locus magicalicus. On the left of the cover, just below the pivot of the conjoined frames is the leaf-shaped green and gleaming locus magicalicus.
The title could go two ways, for there are indeed two thieves, and The Magic Thief could be the thief being reformed or the thief being born.