From Publishers Weekly
Debut novelist Charlton creates a complex world in which magical abilities depend on the ability to handle words. Apprentice wizard Nicodemus Weal was once thought to be the prophesied Halcyon, but his inability to control spells sends him to the bottom of the pecking order. When murders and strange activities coincide with the Convocation at Starhaven, visiting wizards and druids begin to wonder whether Nicodemus might in fact be the anti-Halcyon. While the magic system is intriguing and carefully described, the setting is never fully realized, and Nicodemus's interactions with other teachers and students seem to take place in a world bereft of supporting characters. Charlton's baroque prose perfectly mirrors the central role of language and the byzantine politics surrounding the Convocation and the potential prophecy, and the innovative spell craft will please fantasy readers weary of more traditional magics. (Feb.)
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*Starred Review* Charlton’s first novel superbly tells the story of a young man searching for his place in the world. Would-be spellwright (i.e., wizard) Nicodemus Weal may be the only person able to prevent a magical apocalypse. Or maybe he’ll bring about the end of magic. He desperately wants to become a wizard but has a big problem: he’s a cacographer. In his world, magic can be written in many languages, but rather than on paper, spells are recorded in the casters’ muscles and released into reality with a flick of the wrist. For Nico, anything he touches is instantly misspelled, and when this happens with magical texts, the consequences can be deadly. From the very start, Charlton draws us into Nico’s world. The character is eminently believable, and his difficulty with spelling will strike a chord with many. Charlton’s unique take on how magic is cast will tickle magic fans despite, or because of, its bearing very little resemblance to magic à la Harry Potter. The title of the book is a play on words, of course, since Nico must learn to spell right to become a true spellwright. At story’s end, he is at last credibly preparing for what he believes is his destiny, leaving readers anxiously expecting the next batch of his adventures. --Rebecca Gerber