Monday, July 14, 2014

Book Review: "The Magicians and Mrs. Quent" by Galen Beckett

 The Magicians and Mrs. Quent is the first of a trilogy of books of which The House on Durrow Street is second and The Master of Heathcrest Hall is third. Below is the blurb from the author's website:
"Of the three Lockwell sisters—romantic Lily, prophetic Rose, and studious Ivy—all agree that it’s the eldest, the book-loving Ivy, who has held the family together ever since their father’s retreat into his silent vigil in the library upstairs. Everyone blames Mr. Lockwell’s malady on his magkical studies, but Ivy alone still believes—both in magick, and in its power to bring her father back.

"But there are others in the world who believe in magick as well. Over the years Ivy has glimpsed them—the strangers in black topcoats and hats who appear at the door, strangers of whom their mother will never speak. Ivy once thought them secret benefactors, but now she’s not so certain.

"After tragedy strikes, Ivy takes a job with the reclusive Mr. Quent in a desperate effort to preserve her family. It’s only then that she discovers the fate she shares with a jaded young nobleman named Dashton Rafferdy, his ambitious friend Eldyn Garritt, and a secret web of highwaymen, revolutionaries, illusionists, and spies who populate the island nation of Altania.

"For there is far more to Altania than meets the eye, and more to magick than mere fashion. And in the act of saving her father, Ivy will determine whether the world faces a new dawn—or an everlasting night…."  To the Wyrdwood

Admittedly, the author's website is a bit of a disappointment. He hasn't done anything with it since 2012. But back to our review. 

Readers will recognize allusions to other writers' work, such as the Mr. Rochester-like quality of Mr. Quent via Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre; Mr. Lockwell's similarity to Mr. Bennett (Austen's Pride and Prejudice) might ring a bell and Mrs. Lockwell reminded me a little of Mrs. Dashwood (Sense and Sensibility). You'll find the characters familiar, yet uniquely different.

The social structure that forms the framework for the story will also be familiar to fans of Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, but the elements of sci fi and fantasy within this sort of society is refreshingly new in the context of the cultural setting.

The author uses a slower pace modern readers might bridle at, but it's in keeping with the steam punk/Jane Austen-like feel of the novels. Also, the author has a tendency now and then to tell us something happened, then have the characters explain the details rather than keeping us in the middle of the action. My final criticism is with the author's unwillingness to bring us in a little closer with Ivy to her romantic engagements. We always remain on the outside looking in, while we are there right along with Eldyn Garritt for his amorous liaisons. I would rate these novels PG, but not for sexual content. There are a few violent scenes.

Each novel is written from three different points of view: Ivy Lockwell, Dashton Rafferdy and Eldyn Garritt. The point of view shifts are never irritating as the changes are made with the beginning of a chapter. These three characters' stories are woven together in a delightful fabric that's a fresh twist on the various genres represented in the novels.

If you like fantasy and Jane Austen, you'll like The Magicians and Mrs. Quent.