Hoo-boy, this book was such a delight. I think it ties with The Girls at the Kingfisher Club for most entertaining reads of 2015. The story takes place in Napoleonic Era England and the magicians are in crisis due to an abnormally low supply of magic in the atmosphere. They’re already trying to conserve resources, but pretty soon, they’re going to be in deep trouble. Unfortunately, the blame for this problem is lain at the feet of Zacharias Wythe, the young Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers. He’s a convenient scapegoat because he’s black and most of the sorcerers are (obviously) racist 19th century white Englishmen.
To get away from people trying to take his life, he travels to a girls’ school of magic where they teach their charges how to stifle their magical tendencies. Women are too frail and their brains too weak to use magic properly. Duh. He ends up meeting Prunella Gentleman, a very talented magician and they combine forces to figure out this pesky magic problem.
Honestly, the plot summary doesn’t do justice to how fun this book really was. The plot starts a little slowly, but quickly picks up and never stops. Both Zacharias and Prunella are fantastic characters and I can barely wait for the next book in the series. Don’t be afraid that this book is part of a series though, it wraps up very nicely with no obnoxious cliffhangers.