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The Magic Thief

Review

The Magic Thief

by

Connwaer is a young orphan who has learned to survive on the streets by using his quick wits and nimble pickpocketing fingers. On one cold, wet night, Conn picks the wrong pocket; he comes away not with a few coins to pay for his supper, but with a magicalicus, or wizard's stone, belonging to the powerful and feared wizard Nevery Flinglas. 

Much to Nevery's surprise, the magicalicus that should have killed Conn as soon as he touched it leaves him completely unharmed. Conn goes to live in Nevery's crumbling mansion on an island in the river, with the wizard and his "muscle" Benet, a surly and taciturn hired gun who just happens to enjoy baking biscuits and knitting sweaters. 

Conn decides that he would make a perfect wizard's apprentice ("a thief is a lot like a wizard"), but it turns out that Nevery thinks Conn would make the perfect servant, except for the fact that he eats too much. However, that little misunderstanding is ironed out to everyone's satisfaction, and Conn is indeed upgraded to a potential apprentice. To be formally accepted as a wizard's apprentice, Conn --- who has had no schooling in his life --- must attend magic school with the best students in the city and locate a magicalicus of his own within the month. 

Conn decides to help Nevery find out what --- or who --- is stealing the living magic that runs the city of Wellmet, a task that brings him into contact with the dreaded Underlord Crowe and the enigmatic Dutchess and her beautiful daughter. Conn usually knows just a little more than Nevery and the other adults around him, but can he make them believe that he, a former "sneakthief," is in fact telling the truth? 

Conn is a perfect delight --- his general scrappiness, lively curiosity, shrewd observations of people and sly outmaneuvering of the adults around him all serve to make him a thoroughly engaging narrator. His storytelling is interspersed with wry, terse journal entries by Nevery, which make for an amusing counterpoint to Conn's version of the story. Gorgeous and pitch-perfect drawings by Antonio Javier Caparo, scattered throughout the book, capture the very essence of this Dickensian world. 

English professor and Tolkien expert Sarah Prineas has given us a work grounded in the fantasy tradition, but with original and interesting characters. THE MAGIC THIEF is an absolute charmer. If the other titles in this anticipated trilogy live up to the promise of the first book (and all indications are that they will), then this series has all the makings of a new fantasy classic for children --- the perfect addition to any young person's library.

Reviewed by Usha Reynolds on June 3, 2008

The Magic Thief
by

  • Publication Date: April 21, 2009
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • ISBN-10: 006137590X
  • ISBN-13: 9780061375903