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Mairelon the Magician Hardcover – May, 1991
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From Publishers Weekly
This delightful romp is set in an alternate Regency England, where a royal college of wizards flourishes and the government includes a minister of wizardry. Kim, a girl raised to thievery on the London streets and now disguised as a boy, teams up with Mairelon the Magician after she is hired to search his caravan. Mairelon turns out not to be the simple marketplace phony Kim first thinks him, but Richard Merrill, a member of the gentry and a true magician. He is looking for a group of silver implements, necessary for a truth spell, that he had been accused of stealing from the royal college of wizards years before. He has found one piece and is given a lead to another, supposedly secreted at a country estate. Kim and Merrill, along with his grumbling servant Hunch, travel down to Essex, encountering the inept Sons of the New Dawn, breaking into a house party where others beat them to their prize, discovering a variety of forgeries and getting mixed up in a murder and the elopement of an heiress. Kim finds she has a true talent for wizardry and escapes the fate awaiting a young girl in the streets of this alternate early-19th-century London. Wrede's ( Snow White and Rose Red ) confection will charm readers of both Regency romances and fantasies.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
YA-- This historical fantasy borrows many of the conventions of the historical romance to create a frothy tale that should appeal to a broader audience than would a straightforward fantasy, romance, or historical novel. Kim is surviving the streets of some London in never-never land by disguising herself as a boy and working at the least objectionable and illegal tasks offered to her. She knows that her age is bringing her masquerade to an end, so when fortune throws the mysterious, but apparently honorable, Mairelon in her path with the offer of a job and a destination, she takes the opportunity. From this point, the plot plunges headlong into a convoluted story involving magic, disguised noblemen, sacred vessels, and a ``put all the subjects in the same room and we'll solve this mystery'' conclusion. Trying to stay one guess ahead of Kim and one behind the dashing Mairelon will keep the pages turning. Although Kim is a somewhat vague conception, Mairelon qualifies as a fully realized romantic hero. The novel ends with Kim entering wizard training and her realization that now, ``anything might happen. Anything at all.'' Savvy librarians will interpret this as the beginning of a series with crowd-pleasing potential. --Cathy Chauvette, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
A lot of the background involving 19th Century England (socially and especially in terms of occult theory) probably is not going to make a ton of sense to younger readers. In some ways the book suffers from being too realistic (aside from the existance of magic). But Wrede does not believe in talking down to her younger readers, so expect some serious themes and situations.
On the other hand, she doesn't take the same level of reality into the interpersonal relationships of the characters. Instead, they seem to fit in more with a book for young teens or even pre-teens. The mixture of adult writing and young adult adventure just doesn't work as well in a realistic setting as it does in Wrede's Enchanted Forest books.
I liked the book, but adults should really try the Enchanted Forest series first. (Since I'm 36, I won't even try to predict whether teens would like the book.)