I actually read this book way before I meant to. I realized on my drive to Phoenix a couple of weeks ago that I was quickly going to run out of Pride and Prejudice audiobook, and I didn’t have a replacement on deck. Good old public library and OneClickDigital had this puppy featured, and I wanted to read it anyway, so why not?
It was a bit hard to get into at first. I kept having to rewind the audiobook and listen to parts over again. But once I got a couple chapters in, the book either picked up or I was sufficiently comfortable with the characters and the world that it wasn’t a problem anymore. And then I had a new problem, which was: This is a really good book, and I don’t want to stop listening to it.
Sorcerer to the Crown takes place in an alternate Regency England, one in which magic is real, and flows into the mortal world from Faerie. Only, for generations now, England’s magic has been drying up. There is less of it to go around, and less people popping up who can practice it. This isn’t helped by the English dum-dums refusing to educate anyone but a gentleman in the art of proper magic. If you’re lower class or female, forget it. And if you’re female, there are schools of magic where not only do they *not* teach you how to practice magic, but the entire focus of the school is for young girls to learn to suppress their magic.
Yeah. This is one of THOSE books. And I loved every second of it.
Our two main characters are Zacharias, a black man adopted out of slavery by England’s Sorcerer Royal at the age of six when his talent with magic made itself known, and Prunella, a half-Indian half-white orphan. As the story opens, Zacharias is dealing with the fallout of the death of his adopted father, Sir Stephen. Mysterious circumstances resulted in Zacharias emerging from Sir Stephen’s study the night he died, now in possession of the staff of the Sorcerer Royal. Already not accepted due to his skin color, the murky situation leads to rampant rumors and many of England’s most powerful sorcerers questioning whether he deserves to be the Sorcerer Royal. Prunella is currently living in one of the aforementioned schools of magic for young ladies, and striving to hide just how excessively magical she really is, when a visit from Zacharias upends her whole life.
The most surprising, and most pleasant, thing about this book is how subversively funny it is. If you’re not paying attention, the jokes could pass you by, but if you are, there’s some really funny stuff hidden in Cho’s prose. Her characters are also wonderfully alive. Prunella is one of my favorite characters I’ve read in the last couple of years. She just don’t give a shit.
The atmosphere of this book was delicious, and the story satisfying. It was surprising and funny and moving. Not sure what else I could ask for.
I don’t know where Cho is taking the sequels this book is apparently getting, but one nice thing about Sorcerer to the Crown is that it is self-contained. No cliffhangers, just a nice beginning, middle and end.
I need to buy my own copy and re-read it, so I can catch everything I’m sure I missed.