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The Magicians and Mrs. Quent Paperback – November 24, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë and H.P. Lovecraft collide in Beckett's periodically entertaining debut. Young Ivy Lockwell, the unmarried daughter of a family stricken with poverty after her magician father went mad, travels from her home in Invarel, a mirror of Austen-era London, to become a governess at the country estate of Heathcrest, a Bronte-analogue complete with mysterious Rochester stand-in, Mr. Quent. As a woman, she is forbidden to perform magic and consoles herself with the study of magical history, discovering an ancient story still working its will on the world. Treading a fine line between homage and unoriginality, Invarel occasionally sparkles with descriptions of illusionist shows and quasi-fascist government activity, but Heathcrest is lifted part and parcel from Jane Eyre, and Beckett relies too much on references to that work to fuel emotional arcs and reader attachment. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


“A charming and mannered fantasy confection with a darker core of gothic romance wrapped around a mystery. Fans of any of these will enjoy it. Readers who enjoy all these genres will find it a banquet.” —Robin Hobb, author of Renegade’s Magic

“I loved reading this piquant page-turner of a retro-modernist fantasy novel. But it’s more than just a rattling good time. Like its characters, it is not merely devastatingly clever, but has a heart and a soul.” —Ellen Kushner, author of The Privilege of the Sword

The Magicians and Mrs. Quent is a charming and accomplished debut, sure to delight fantasy afficianados and lovers of gothic romance alike.” —Jacqueline Carey, author of Kushiel’s Mercy

The Magicians and Mrs Quent combines the sense and sensibility of Miss Austen with the sweep and romantic passion of the Miss Brontes in a fantastical feast of delights. From the moment I encountered the resourceful and charming Miss Ivoleyn Lockwell, I was eager to follow her from the fashionable streets of the city to her new employment as governess at lonely Heathcrest Hall on the windswept and rugged moorlands. In Altania, Galen Beckett has created a fascinating and engaging world where the formalities and courtesies of polite society conceal the emergence of a dark and ancient force that threatens to destabilize the kingdom and destroy everything that Ivy holds dear.”—Sarah Ash, author of Tracing the Shadow

“An enchanting blend of Victorian melodrama, Edwardian comedy of manners, and magic, a trip into an alternate universe in which top-hatted gentlemen dabble in magic and young women of great spirit are as beleaguered by their lack of dowry as they are by the evil villains.  The characters are convincing, the plot vertiginous, and the danger bone-chilling.”—Delia Sherman, author of The Porcelain Dove

"[Beckett] cleverly mixes fantasy and literary....with elements of the fantastic, an imaginative eye, and a dry sense of humor."—

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Product Details

  • Series: The Magicians and Mrs. Quent (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 498 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra (November 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553592556
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553592559
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #593,602 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

90 of 98 people found the following review helpful By Orson Scott Card on September 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I love the work of Jane Austen; the Bronte sisters not so much. I was well warned by the cover that this was an Austen pastiche, so I could hardly be disappointed to find that it does, indeed, echo motifs from all of Austen's books. (Falling ill in someone else's house; fetching the mother; intense concentration on marriage proposals; the entailed house; couples avoiding the "inappropriate" marriage.)

And let's not forget the echoes of Dickens in the story of the young man of good family fallen on hard times and working as a scrivener in a counting house while trying to protect his sister ...

The middle of the book is an epistolary - the main character, Ivy, is off to be a governess in an ancient, half-unused mansion with a locked room, an aloof, mysterious master, and a hostile housekeeper (Rebecca and Mrs Danvers? Not quite; not even The Sound of Music <grin>). Ivy has charge of children who see ghosts (The Turn of the Screw!), and seemingly hostile villagers are suspicious of all green-eyed women. The letters about the ensuing events are written to Ivy's father, who has been driven mad by some magical thing he did years before. It could not be more gothic.

All along, however, this is also a fascinating magical-18th-century fantasy. The world is as richly invented as any fantasy should be, with soul-eating aliens from a wandering planet poised to invade even as the ancient forests are staging a perilous uprising and magicians are few at a time when they are much needed.

Taking on Austen is a very hard thing to do, but most of the time Galen Beckett gets the language and the manners right. Most especially, the wit, while not up to Oscar Wilde (nothing is), is certainly credible for an Austenesque society.
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Kat Hooper VINE VOICE on September 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
From the back flap: "What if there were a fantastical cause underlying the social constraints and limited choices confronting a heroine in a novel by Jane Austen or Charlotte Brontë? Galen Beckett, ... began The Magicians and Mrs. Quent to answer that question ...."

I was excited to receive a copy of The Magicians and Mrs. Quent, Galen Beckett's "debut" novel. There's something exciting about a new author -- they're fresh, and when you hold one of their books in your hands (especially a beautiful one like The Magicians and Mrs. Quent), you hope that maybe you're about to discover a brand new talent.

Imagine my disappointment when I turned over the title page and read that the copyright to The Magicians and Mrs. Quent belongs to Mark Anthony. I immediately went to both authors' websites. Galen Beckett's talked about his debut novel. Mark Anthony's said (and still says as of 9/22/08):

"So what is the new book? Well, not to be too cagey, but that's something I can't answer quite yet. I can tell you that it's not another book in The Last Rune series--that tale, wonderful as it was for me, has come to a close. I can also tell you that the new book is a fantasy. However, it's fairly different than my previous books. So different, in fact, that my publisher has decided to launch the book under a new pen name.

And that's where all the cloak-and-dagger stuff comes in. I've been asked by my publisher not to publicly reveal my alter ego just yet, so as not to spoil the secret. The good news is that I will be able to talk more freely about the new book once it's out. So keep checking back. As soon as I'm at liberty to reveal my other writing identity, you'll see the news right here."

(So, I guess I've just outed Galen Beckett and Mark Anthony.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By guitarchick24 VINE VOICE on October 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have to start off this review by saying that I've never read anything by Bronte or Austen, so I can't speak to the comparisons between Galen Beckett's "The Magicians and Mrs. Quent" and those classic works. I suppose if I was really familiar with Bronte and Austen, I might be more critical, but as it is, I went in just expecting a fun historical fantasy novel.

And overall "Mrs. Quent" doesn't disappoint. This rather lengthy novel follows the adventures of Ivy Lockwell, the eldest of three teenage sisters, as she discovers the role magic has played in her family and how it will affect her future. It's a race against time as she works to solve a riddle, left by her now mentally ill father, that will ultimately save the world.

Most of today's authors tend to paint their characters outside of the societal norm, even in a historical setting, but Ivy is firmly entrenched as a woman of the time period (Victorian/Regency). The only character that shows any tendency to be untraditional is the youngest sister, Lily. Everyone else follows the strict social code of the era. This includes a failed romance between Ivy and the dashing Mr. Rafferdy, whose station in life is a little too high for Ivy's family. I thought it would bother me, but it was kind of refreshing to have the main characters actually behave the way people normally would within a certain time period.

But there were also a lot of holes the author left in the story, as well as a weird middle section that made you feel like you were reading two books, and not one. When Ivy goes to the country to take care of Mr. Quent's wards, the narrative suddenly switches to first person and we ignore the rest of the characters we met in the first part of the novel.
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