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Reviewed by:
  • The Magic Thief
  • Katrina Bromann
Prineas, Sarah; The Magic Thief; illus. by Antonio Javier Caparo. HarperCollins, 2008; [448p] Library ed. ISBN 978-0-06-137588-0 $17.89 Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-137587-3 $16.99 Reviewed from galleys R* Gr. 5-9

The city of Wellmet is in serious trouble due to a dramatic decline in its level of magic. The situation threatens to upset the already delicate balance of power between the duchess, who rules the city from her palace on the east side of the river in Sunrise, the Underlord Crowe, who keeps a mafia-like grip on the west side in Twilight, and the magisters, who control the magic from their islands in the middle of the river. Enter Conn, a raggedy street urchin who picks the pocket of wizard Nevery, but instead of slipping a handful of coins, he accidentally snatches the magister's locus magicalicus, or wizardly stone. That his grave trespass does not kill him interests both him and Nevery; Conn thinks he'll make a good wizard's apprentice, while Nevery thinks he'll make a useful servant. Confusion over his exact status gets ironed out after he moves in with Nevery and hired muscle Benet; Nevery constantly underestimates the boy, but quick learner Conn doggedly pursues his own locus magicalicus and his status as a wizard, as well as taking a keen interest and vital role in halting the leaking magic and saving the city. Chapters are narrated by Conn, who tends to play his cards close to his chest; he is a careful thinker, however, and readers are lucky to be privy to his constant reflections, wry observations, and honest assessments. Journal entries at the end of each chapter provide terse recaps from Nevery's point of view, and chapter-header sketches serve to further engage the audience. Prineas exercises tight control over her characters, rendering their actions credible and offering surprising revelations about their histories. Conn's voice is particularly solid, both measured and intense, making this a delight to read aesthetically, and additional appeal stems from the compelling plot and attractive setting. This is the first in an anticipated trilogy, and since Conn has a lot yet to learn, he is sure to draw avid fans back for more. [End Page 490]



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