Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate
Author: Stephanie Burgis
Katherine Ann Stephenson tries to dress up as a boy and run away to help solve her family’s troubles when she is twelve, but she is stopped before she can get out of the yard. That doesn’t stop her from trying to do what she can to help her family, and when she discovers that she has inherited her mother’s magical gifts, she wants to use that magic to help them. She soon learns that magic is more complicated than it appears, and different people have different options about how she and the people she cares about should or shouldn’t use magic. As she and her sister discover the uses of magic, she also tries to protect them from their own mistakes, the villainous people who want to control their lives and use of magic, and a highwayman.
While some of the characterization is weak and reminiscent of Cinderella, the book shines with the relationship of the sisters. While their relationship is not perfect, it is clear that they care very much about each other even when they might be fighting. Even though the first part of the book feels like Kat doesn’t like her Stepmother at all (and vice versa), it is clear that there are important family ties there as well. The Regency setting can sometimes be fun and beautiful, but other times it can be a little confusing that it is supposed to be the Regency era and Kat’s more modern personality doesn’t seem to fit the time period. The magic too, while hinting at some interesting ideas, is somewhat underdeveloped. The romances of the sisters are delightful, showing two entirely different relationships. Although it might be hard to find an audience interested in magic and the Regency era for the age of the intended audience, this book will delight those who are interested in those topics.