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A Matter of Magic by Patricia C Wrede

#32 of 200

Original Language: English
Publisher: Orb Books; (June 8, 2010)
Country: United States
Publication Date: June 8, 2010
ISBN: 0765326329
Page Count: 448
When a stranger offers her a small fortune to break into a traveling magician’s wagon, Kim doesn’t hesitate. Having grown up a waif in the dirty streets of London, Kim isn’t above a bit of breaking-and-entering. A hard life and lean times have schooled her in one lesson: steal from them before they steal from you. But when the magician catches her in the act, Kim thinks she’s done for. Until he suggests she become his apprentice; then the real trouble begins. Kim soon finds herself entangled with murderers, thieves, and cloak-and-dagger politics, all while trying to learn how to become both a proper lady and a magician in her own right. Magic and intrigue go hand in hand in Mairelon the Magician and The Magician’s Ward , two fast-paced novels filled with mystery and romance, set against the intricate backdrop of Regency England.
Patricia Wrede’s much loved characters Kim and Mairelon have been refurbished for paperback in a Matter of Magic. Originally published as two seperate novels, Mairelon the Magician (1992) and Magician’s Ward (1997), the adventures of Mairelon and Kim were brought together in an omnibus edition in A Matter of Magic (2010). It was published as Magic and Malice in hardcover.

Wrede creates a realistic environment within the confines of 19th century London as her heroes travel the poverty stricken streets of London’s homeless. Kim plays a respectable tatterdemalion, a scruffy young woman disguised as a young man for survival. Mairelon plays the street magician, master of illusion and artifice. When Wrede brings the two together when Kim is commissioned to steal from Mairelon, a new world of possibilities emerge.

A Matter of Magic is an easy read; the language is clear and precise making it a neat read for younger readers. Kim’s street cant (slang), ‘toff’ and ‘cove’, can make it more difficult, but it becomes easier to pick up on as the story progresses. Mairelon’s more formal language creates a stark contrast that demonstrates the social hierarchy constantly appearing within the narrative.

In the first part of A Matter of Magic (Mairelon the Magician) Kim and Mairelon rush to find the silver platter belonging to the magical Saltesh set. Mairelon has been framed for the set’s theft and must prove his innocence. In the second half (The Magician’s Ward) the focus is on the theft of magic and Kim becoming a powerful player within Society.

Unfortunately these stories do not gel perfectly, and leave the reader with a sense of incompleteness. The time between Kim becoming an apprentice Magician and being introduced to Society (a six month period) is missing. The magical aspects of the story are heavily impressed on, yet when the opportunity comes to expand on the training/history it is bypassed.

In addition, both stories are concluded immediately after the conclusion, after a detailed explanation. Both Mairelon and Kim monologue on the details of a heist once they have captured the antagonist. In this way Wrede spoon feeds her readers instead of revealing details slowly. It also leaves the reader with a stunted finish. There are no reprisals, court hearings or even an epilogue to give a brief account of what happens when their adventure ends.

A fun and easy read, A Matter of Magic is ideal for younger readers emerging for the first time into the world of magic and fantasy.
Raiding Bookshelves Rating
Judging by the cover: The cover is beautiful. It reminds me of an old painting, like the ones Juliet Marillier’s new covers are based on. The cover model is beautiful, and her gown is exquisite without being ostentatious. The glowing globe in her hand emphasises the usefulness of magic and is shaped like Kim’s light globe spell (her most useful).

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