Genre: Fantasy Age Range: YA/A Star Rating: 4 stars Series: Yes - fist book of trilogy
In the hallowed halls of Oxford’s Merlin College, the most talented—and highest born—sons of the Kingdom of Britain are taught the intricacies of magickal theory. But what dazzles can also destroy, as Gray Marshall is about to discover…
Gray’s deep talent for magick has won him a place at Merlin College. But when he accompanies four fellow students on a mysterious midnight errand that ends in disaster and death, he is sent away in disgrace—and without a trace of his power. He must spend the summer under the watchful eye of his domineering professor, Appius Callender, working in the gardens of Callender’s country estate and hoping to recover his abilities. And it is there, toiling away on a summer afternoon, that he meets the professor’s daughter.
Even though she has no talent of her own, Sophie Callender longs to be educated in the lore of magick. Her father has kept her isolated at the estate and forbidden her interest; everyone knows that teaching arcane magickal theory to women is the height of impropriety. But against her father’s wishes, Sophie has studied his ancient volumes on the subject. And in the tall, stammering, yet oddly charming Gray, she finally finds someone who encourages her interest and awakens new ideas and feelings.
Sophie and Gray’s meeting touches off a series of events that begins to unravel secrets about each of them. And after the king’s closest advisor pays the professor a closed-door visit, they begin to wonder if what Gray witnessed in Oxford might be even more sinister than it seemed. They are determined to find out, no matter the cost…
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
This was such a fun book, another lent to me by a friend, that took a little time to get into, but then I was thoroughly captivated.
I think this book is technically YA (judging by the publisher), but it reminds me of SORCERER TO THE CROWN, and could probably have been sold equally well as Adult.
Writing wise, this is also a more formal style that reminds me of Regency novels. It did take me some time to get used to, as it’s not my favourite. It’s part of the reason the pacing starts off so slow, as the formality of speech help slow down the story. Everyone has to greet one another, and then cannot say certain things for propriety’s sake.
However, once they get that out the way, the mystery takes centre stage and the pace move on much faster. It’s a whirlwind adventure in the middle, which slows a little before the finale to allow the romance to take page-time (and they’re so cute together!)
The book is set in a very alternative England. The Tudors still have power, so no union with Scotland, and I don’t think Mary I happened, so Philip of Spain’s disastrous campaign in France never happened, so England has French Territories (a fair bit of the book is set in Breizh, aka Brittany). I loved the world!
In fact, having loved this book so much once I got past the initial slow pace and writing style, makes me want to pick up SORCERER FOR THE CROWN again and give it another go, as those were the same issues I had then. But first, onto the next book in the series, LADY OF MAGICK!
Read my reviews of other books by Sylvia Izzo Hunter:
Noctis Magicæ (this series):
- LADY OF MAGICK (#2)
- A SEASON OF SPELLS (#3)