The Magicians and Mrs. Quent

The Magicians and Mrs. Quent

by Galen Beckett

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553592559
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/24/2009
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 333,493
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

What if there was a fantastical cause underlying the social constraints and limited choices confronting a heroine in a novel by Jane Austen or Charlotte Brontë? Galen Beckett began writing The Magicians and Mrs. Quent to answer that question. He lives in Colorado and is currently at work on the next chapter in this fabulous tale of witches, magicians, and revolution, The House on Durrow Street.



From the Hardcover edition.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One



IT WAS GENERALLY held knowledge among the people who lived on Whitward Street that the eldest of the three Miss Lockwells had a peculiar habit of reading while walking.

So often was she observed engaged in this activity that, while the practice was unusual–and therefore not altogether admirable–people had become accustomed to it. On almost any fine day she might be seen striding past the brick houses that stood along the street as upright as magistrates, a volume in her hands and her attention absorbed by the pages before her. No one bothered to wave or call out in greeting as she passed; they had learned long ago there was no point in it when she had a book with her.

And Miss Lockwell always had some book about her, be it small or large or thin or fat, with gilt-edged pages or a cracked leather cover or letters writ in gold down the spine. When they saw her coming, people stepped out of her path. Or, if the charitable thought occurred, positioned themselves in front of loose cobbles, lampposts, or other hazards so she would be forced to go around them, which she did without breaking her stride. Or taking her eyes off her book.

For many years the Lockwells had dwelled at a solid, respectable address in Gauldren's Heights, which was itself a solid, respectable district in the Grand City of Invarel: home to lawyers, well-to-do tradesmen, and those members of the gentry who could not afford to live along the more fashionable lanes of the New Quarter (or who had not yet pauperized themselves attempting to do so). Their house was not far Uphill, of course; the Lockwell fortune was too small for that. But neither was it too far Downhill; the Lockwell name was too old for that.

The house was tall, if not particularly wide, with four floors and a gabled attic, and it had a pleasing if somewhat old-fashioned aspect when viewed off the street, from which it was desirably removed by a small gated yard. Something was always blooming in the gardens that comprised the yard, and wisteria coiled around the bars of the fence, so that one walking past was always greeted by a fulsome array of colors and scents.

If the Lockwells themselves were not quite as respectable as the address at which they lived, they were all the same charitably regarded by their neighbors. All three of the sisters had grown into beauties (though the eldest Miss Lockwell was considered to be the prettiest). And the people of Whitward Street could have only respect for Mrs. Lockwell, who had been forced to do for her daughters with so little assistance, as Mr. Lockwell had long been confined to the house by illness.

That the Lockwells never threw parties or gave dinners had to be allowed, given Mr. Lockwell's condition. And if the three Miss Lockwells never attended masques or went for tours about the city in a four-in-hand, leaning out the windows of the carriage and waving their fans at young gentlemen, then Mrs. Lockwell should only be commended for not favoring fashion over finance. Considering their lack of fortune, her daughters would have to marry for security, not attachment, and would do well to take whatever they might get, no matter how old or how dull.

Less easy for the good people of Whitward Street to excuse were the muffled sounds that might be heard from the street at odd hours or the flickering lights that could sometimes be seen in one of the upper windows. But it was rumored Mr. Lockwell had been something of a magician once, so perhaps such things were only to be expected. And if from time to time, in the lingering twilight before a greatnight, a pair of men arrived at the front gate, dressed in dark hats and dark capes, then the neighbors never made mention of it, for Mrs. Lockwell always turned the strangers away.

Besides, such occurrences had become less frequent over time and had not happened at all in recent years. What was more, after a long period of being held in low regard, the study of magick was coming into fashion again, particularly among the sons of lords; and if the magnates aspired to a thing, it would not be long before the lesser classes followed suit.

All the same, there was something peculiar about the house on Whitward Street, just as there was something peculiar about the bookish habits of the eldest Miss Lockwell. Thus, while people regarded both of them well enough, people also tended to leave well enough alone.


IT WAS LATE in the hot gold afternoon of a long day–not quite a greatday, but a lumenal of over thirty hours–and as she often did, Miss Ivy Lockwell walked along Whitward Street with her nose in a book. She maneuvered around a puddle without lifting her gaze, then stopped just in time to avoid a certain trampling as a delivery cart hurtled from a side lane. Ivy turned a page, then, when the way was clear, adjusted the basket of apples that hung from the crook of her elbow, stepped over the deposits made by the horses, and continued along the street.

A group of boys stood on a corner, hawking copies of The Comet and The Swift Arrow freshly printed with the week's politics and scandals. As Ivy passed by, a gust of wind rushed down the street. The boys let out shouts of "Hey there!" and "Hold on now!" while a number of broadsheets peeled off the stacks and went flying away. It was as if the headlines–intended to agitate the reader–had instead animated the papers they were printed on, propelling them to rebellious action. Fueled by the change in the wind, the broadsheets winged along the street toward the center of the city, and some traveled so far that they did not come to rest until they were plastered against the very doors of Assembly, wherein the laws of Altania were debated and set down. Several magnates, upon leaving those halls, met the papers with some distaste, unable as they were to avoid reading the prominent headline: LORDS MAKE A FOOL OF OUR KING AGAIN.

 The boys clutched for their papers, and Ivy for her bonnet. A thunderstorm was coming, as they commonly did on long afternoons. It was the heat that caused them, her father had told her once, building up during the protracted hours of sunlight until the air was moist and oppressive, full of restless energy that only thunder and lightning could release.

Ivy quickened her pace; it would not do to let rain hit the pages. Shutting the book, she hurried through the gate, up the steps, and into the front hall of the house.

"Please take this to the kitchen, Wilbern," Ivy said as a gray-haired man in an overlarge suit shuffled into the hall. She handed him the basket. "And let Mrs. Murch know I'll have a cup of tea in the parlor."

Ivy started up the stairs, anxious to continue reading. She had just begun a chapter about the famous magician Slade Vordigan, who seventy years ago had conjured an army of shadows at the battle of Selburn Howe, helping the king to win the day and driving the Old Usurper back to the sea, banishing him from the shores of Altania. However, by the time she reached the top of the staircase, Mrs. Lockwell was waiting for her.

"Really, Ivy, I don't know how you expect to catch a gentleman's eyes when your own are always on a book!" her mother exclaimed. Mrs. Lockwell seldom said anything she didn't feel was worth exclaiming.

Ivy tucked the book under her arm. "I gave the apples to Wilbern. They were a halfpenny apiece. The grocer said supply was short due to the state of the roads, which have grown thick with robbers. Though given the price he charged, I might have done better to deal with a highwayman directly."

"I was watching out the window," Mrs. Lockwell said, following Ivy into the parlor. "Do you know you walked right past Mr. Gadwick? You could have greeted him–you are acquainted, after all; there would have been no impropriety. He might have invited you to his house for tea. Only you didn't give him so much as a glance. What do you say to that?"

"I'd say that I'm lucky for my book," Ivy said, setting the volume on a table. "For Mr. Gadwick has a large number of dogs, each of which he enjoys speaking about in exhaustive detail. And the only time we were ever received at his house, as you'll recall, he made Lily sit on a footstool because one of his whiphounds was lying on the sofa and 'must not be disturbed.'"

"He's a gentleman! Gentlemen often keep dogs."

"He has his servants carry them on damp days when he's out with them for a stroll. One for each dog."

"Well, we should be so fortunate to have that many servants. I'd have them carry everything up and down all these dreadful stairs. I'm beginning to think this house has grown taller over the years. Some days it seems I can hardly catch my breath." Mrs. Lockwell was a plump woman, though still handsome. "And you know how I have to follow Cassity to make certain she's not skulking about instead of working. Besides," she went on, back to exclaiming now, "I've heard it said that Mr. Gadwick has over two thousand regals a year!"

Ivy sat in a horsehair chair. "I wonder if Mrs. Murch knows to peel the apples before they're boiled," she said, at which point Mrs. Lockwell forgot all about Mr. Gadwick and, fearing the ruination of the sauce for that night's supper, hastened from the parlor.

Finding herself alone–save for a tortoiseshell cat that lazed on a windowsill–Ivy picked up her book and resumed reading. Soon she rose from her chair and began pacing the length of the parlor, book in hand. The cat hopped down from the windowsill and followed her paces. Outside the window the storm blew past, and the day faded in its wake. However, the twilight would last for hours, as it always did at the end of a long lumenal.

It was not a noise that let her know she was no longer alone but rather a change in the air, and a sensation of being watched.

"Hello, Lily," she said, not looking up from the book.

"But I didn't make a sound!" came an exasperated reply. "How could you know I was here?"

"It's an eldritch power. Elder sisters always know when their younger siblings are creeping up on them."

"No they don't. Rose is two years older than me, and she never knows when I'm sneaking up behind her. I could be wearing bells and it wouldn't matter. But you always know."

"Make that eldest sisters, then." Ivy looked up as Lily flounced into the room. She was trying to scowl but wasn't doing a very good job of it. Lily had a soft oval face and a pink mouth that seemed designed only for laughing.

"So why were you spying on me?"

"I was waiting to see if you'd run into a wall."

"You would have been waiting a very long time, then. I never run into walls."

Lily drooped onto one of the sofas. "I suppose not. But you should run into them, walking and reading at the same time as you do. Why do you bother?"

This question startled Ivy; she wasn't certain she knew the answer. "There's so much to learn. I suppose I don't want to waste a moment. So if I can read while I'm out on my errands, so much the better. Besides, walking helps me to think."

Only that wasn't entirely right. When she was reading, Ivy could feel herself filling up with jittery energy, just as the air had that afternoon when the storm was gathering. Walking was her way to release it, her lightning and thunder.

"Mother says there are so many books in this house it could drive a person mad. She says they used to multiply like mice and that Father was always reading five at once."

Ivy smiled again. "Yes, he was. I can't picture him without a book in his hands. And another in his pocket."

"But he doesn't read anymore. He just gets books out and scatters them around." Lily plucked at the ribbons on her dress. "Do you think Mother is right? Do you think it was too many books that made Father mad?"

"Lily!"

Ivy intended to utter a firm reprimand, but at that moment Rose appeared in the doorway. Rose was biting her lower lip, concentrating on the tray in her hands as she advanced slowly into the parlor.

"Look, we brought you your tea," Lily said. "Mrs. Murch had forgotten all about it, as Mother wouldn't stop talking to her. Something about eels or peels, I couldn't tell which. But I saw it sitting on the sideboard, and Mrs. Murch said it was for you. We aren't having eels for supper, are we?"

Ivy set down her book and hurried forward, taking the tray from her sister and setting it down. "Thank you, Rose."

Rose was seventeen and the tallest of the three sisters, though she was younger than Ivy by five years. Of course, even Lily was taller than Ivy now, and she was only fifteen. Ivy poured a cup of the tea and took a sip. It was stone cold.

"Is it good?" Rose said.

Ivy smiled. "It's lovely. Thank you."

Rose smiled too, then sat at the pianoforte. She never pressed the keys, but she liked to run her fingers up and down the keyboard, touching first only the black keys, then only the white.

"Here, Rose, I'll play for us," Lily said, rising from the sofa and parading to the pianoforte. She alighted on the bench, scooting Rose to one side, and opened a book of music. "You can flip the pages for me."

Rose shook her head. "I won't know when to turn them."

"I'll make a signal when I'm ready. Like this." Lily gave a grand nod, as a queen might when greeting a courtier, then placed her hands on the keys. A brooding music filled the parlor. Their mother complained that Lily only ever played gloomy songs, and Ivy would not argue that her youngest sister had a proclivity for rumbling and dissonant pieces. However, even Mrs. Lockwell had to admit that Lily's skill was great.

Rose tilted her head, staring at the keys, fascinated by the music–so much so that, when Lily reached the end of a page and her flamboyant nod resulted in no noticeable effect, she was forced to give her sister a nudge. Rose hastily turned the page, and the music continued.

To that portentous accompaniment, Ivy picked up her book and resumed her reading. And soon her pacing. In Ivy's experience, books about magicians always went into great detail about what the magicians did but never how they did it. This book was different. After recounting the events of the battle of Selburn Howe, the author went on to describe the means Slade Vordigan used to conjure the shadow army, which the narrator claimed to have witnessed firsthand. Her pace quickening, Ivy read the account again.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Magicians and Mrs. Quent 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 78 reviews.
Jilseponie More than 1 year ago
This reads like a Victorian novel and a portion of it is like a Gothic mystery. It is very easy to forget it is technically a fantasy novel because Beckett adopts so many facets of a Victorian England. The city and township names are similar in sound and the rules of society are similar as well. For hardcore fantasy readers there is enough magick and mystery to keep you enthralled as well even if the characters aren't traipsing through a wood full of orcs and elves. Well written with characters that are tied together by the tiniest twists of fate, The Magicians and Mrs. Quent is a truly enjoyable and engrossing tale.
harstan More than 1 year ago
The Lockwell family went from reasonably well off to poverty when the patriarch, a talented magickian, went insane a prisoner in his own home. As a result of his decline, the family never hosted parties and the three Miss Lockwells rarely socialize with their former equals. Instead suddenly poor, unmarried oldest daughter Ivy the bookworm leaves her home in Invarel and her beloved sisters Rose and Lily to become a governess at a country estate of Heathcrest.----------------- Being female, Ivy is unable to practice the science of magick as that is against the law. As such, she has turned her interest into the history of magic. When she comes across a frightening ancient tome she turns to Mr. Quent for guidance. Apparently a spell from a long forgotten distant past is slowly but successfully performing magic to take control of the world.---------------- This is a fascinating ¿Regency¿ fantasy that pays homage to the great female authors of the nineteenth century like Austen and the Bronte sisters. The tale is especially super when the plot focuses on Invarel and the magick malady of Mr. Lockwell with its impact on his family. At Heathcrest on the other hand the story line is filled with much more action as schemes abound but loses some of its freshness as the story crosses to deep into Charlotte Bronte territory. Still Ivy makes for a fine fantasy as she tries to save the world from a deadly spell but magickians and the law ban her from using magick to prevent the disaster from happening.----------- Harriet Klausner
Krillgar More than 1 year ago
 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you love Regency or Gothic romance, but are continually disappointed by the literary quality of the genre, this is the book you've been waiting for. If you're looking for a little magic, but despair of the gore and excess so common to fantasy, this is the book you've been waiting for. I'm not one to gush, but I can't wait for the next one!
Strider66 on LibraryThing 24 days ago
Pros: reminiscent of Regency and Victorian authors, uses a Victorian inspired setting, flows well, literary but the fantasy aspects are fully realizedCons: story develops a little too slowlyThe Magicians And Mrs. Quent is split into three parts. In the first, we are introduced to the major players - the Lockwell girls, of which Ivy is the dominant, Mr. Rafferdy and the upperclass circle he inhabits, and Eldyn Garritt, a gentleman whose father ruined the family name and has left him in dire straits. This part of the novel feels very much like Pride and Prejudice. There's matchmaking among those of unequal backgrounds and much prejudice abounding because of it.The second part is more like Jane Eyre. I won't say more than that as it would give away a major plot twist. The third part of the novel was entirely original in that it didn't make me think of a Victorian novel, and is designed to tie the other parts together.The story meanders, following the fortunes of the various players. There is a plot, but you don't really see it until the third segment - though that's not to say it isn't present in the first two. The first two entrance you with their language and the doings of the people so it's not until near the end that you see what the author's been working towards. While the Magicians make a brief appearance in the first part, Mrs. Quent doesn't show up until the end of the second.And while the setting is Enlightenment/Victorian, it's a fully realized fantasy world. The planet is not earth (the day/night cycle follows an uneven rotation so almanacs are consulted to learn how long each will be). There's history, there are the seeds of revolt and there are the underpinnings of emancipation. Which makes it a unique book among fantasy novels which tend to stick to Medieval worlds.And it's hard not to read a book that begins, "It was generally held knowledge among the people who lived on Whitward street that the eldest of the 3 Miss Lockwells had a peculiar habit of reading while walking."If you like Regency or Victorian literature or just want to read a fantasy novel that's a bit different, this is a good choice.
reconditereader on LibraryThing 24 days ago
The beginning of Beauty and the Beast plus the middle of Jane Eyre plus standard fantasy equals this book.
JenSay on LibraryThing 24 days ago
I wanted to like it. I really did. I waited a year to buy it in paperback. Then it happened. I really didn't like it. The first section starts off fine. I liked the sisters and their family life. I enjoyed reading about Rafferdy and Garrett. Although I didn't appreciate the Jane Eyre rip-off when Ivy moves to work for Mr. Quent, I still found the plot engaging. The final section is what did me in. For as wordy as Beckett is, he just doesn't say anything in this section. I kept reading for something that would redeem it. Finally, I skimmed the last 50 pages or so. I don't feel like I missed out.
samanning on LibraryThing 24 days ago
Too simple, and at the same time too complex. Writing is poor.
tundra on LibraryThing 24 days ago
I really enjoyed this book. I wish the author would hurry and finish writing the next book! It takes place in the same setting as Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, which I also really liked. It is about gentleman magicians in a setting similar to the Victorian era in England.
calmclam on LibraryThing 24 days ago
Decent. Pulls heavily from Austen and Bronte, but with the odd result that we don't always know where things are going. Characters are so-so; plot doesn't really get going toward the end; props for the obvious romantic couple not coupling and the character who seems to be gay (would take those props away if that's never confirmed). I did find the premise rather disconcerting and problematic.
BoundTogetherForGood on LibraryThing 24 days ago
This is 510 pages of Victorianesque reading, folks. I enjoyed that aspect very much. The characters are very well developed and enjoyable. While there seems to be a lot of characters to follow, it is a long book, so it becomes fairly easy to remember who everyone is, if only because there are many pages devoted to each scene of the book. The author does a wonderful job of not jumping around too quickly.Ivy is a book lover. She has two sisters, Rose and Lily. In order to keep them straight I remembered "IRL"; that's the abbreviation for "in real life". That reminded me Ivy is the oldest and Lily the youngest. From there on it was pretty easy to remember the characters because I found them interesting.The book was written on the premise of the author wondering "what if" the social circumstances written of in Victorian books were due to a specific reason. Now that I know that I find it very interesting. However I also feel that the author could have developed much of the details of the storyline more fully. The plot is very sci-fi for a book set in the Victorian era. That's my impression of it anyway. The tale involves magicians and witches and animated, living trees that seem to have a will of their own. The setting is "Altania", a fictional land. There are three parts to this book. The first and third are written in the same voice. The second part is written as Ivy writing missives to her father. While this part feels somewhat less sophisticated than the other two parts, it was still enjoyable to hear her thoughts.Overall, I believe I am happy with the story. That's a lot to say of a book that is 510 pages long. I certainly had no preconcieved ideas, aside from the fact that two women to whom I have similar reading tastes enjoyed the book. I would have been even happier with it though if the author had explained more fully some of those things that are very specific and peculiar to the plot. I felt he allowed us to just suspect some things, to be intuitive of them. While it was possible, I also sometimes find that dissatisfying; I want to know what the author wanted us to know. I also felt he ended the story a bit abruptly too, whereas I felt he could have added much greater depth to the very ending. The summation felt rushed. I think I might have actually rated it as high as a 5.0 instead of 4.0 out of 5.0.
stephxsu on LibraryThing 24 days ago
The beautiful and bookish Ivy Lockwell lives with her parents and two younger sisters. Mr. Lockwell is a prisoner of his own mind through his studies of magick, and the country of Altania is not sure what to make of its magickal elements. Society seems to shun or disdain magick, but there are some factions within the political system of Altania that believe Altania¿s ancient magick still thrives, biding its time to rise up again.Desperate times force Ivy to take a job in the country with the enigmatic Mr. Quent. There, she learns just how tangled up she is in Altania¿s magick. Ivy alone holds the key to protecting Altania from the wrath of a frightening magickal force.THE MAGICIANS AND MRS. QUENT sure ¬sounds like something I would love. Historical fantasy, particularly with a Regency feel (although the story is set in a different world)¿ I¿m all over it, right?This book was of that strange breed for which I know there were deep flaws with its premise, execution, and more, and yet found myself reading all the way through.First off, I don¿t think I have ever read a book before which so blatantly copied from famous authors¿ works. Beckett was clearly influenced by Austen and Bronte, not simply in terms of writing style, but in the story¿s actual content. Parts 1 and 3 of THE MAGICIANS AND MRS. QUENT consist of the social pettiness and satire of an Austen novel, while Part 2 is blatantly reminiscent of Charlotte Bronte¿s gothic, mystery atmosphere. The influence of these two authors on this book goes so far as to manifest itself in the book¿s point of view: Parts 1 and 3 are told in third-person omniscient, whereas Part 2 switches to first-person from Ivy¿s point of view. What, Beckett, you couldn¿t even integrate it so that Ivy¿s time at Quent¿s place could be told in third person? As a reader, I simply did not see the logic in dividing these parts so. Ivy¿s first-person narration in Part 2 seemed to have no significant influence on the story whatsoever, except that it makes it easier to ¿borrow¿ from the likes of Jane Eyre. Blergh.Similarly, the disjuncture of Part 2 from Parts 1 and 3 made it feel like two different stories were being told. Even in Part 3 the happenings of Parts 1 and 2 didn¿t fit together in any believable way, leaving me no choice but to conclude that Part 2 seemed like an authorial indulgence in Victorian gothic storytelling with little to no bearing on what readers are led to believe should be the primary plot of the book¿that is, the goings-on of Parts 1 and 3.So obviously the characters and their predicaments were pretty much completely jacked from Austen and Bronte (go on, read a few pages and tell me if any of Altania¿s characters have never appeared in an Austen or Bronte work before). This led me to have a different reading experience with THE MAGICIANS AND MRS. QUENT than I usually have with a book¿namely, that I knew the story was flawed and not very original, but continued to read out of my enjoyment of the, shall we say, ¿smallness¿ of the story. The story elements were poorly integrated, but it possesses the addictiveness of reading about petty people¿s petty problems (from Austen) and the melodrama of an innocent girl exploring the ¿haunted¿ grounds of a tortured man (from Bronte). In short, what I liked about in book lay in its completely unoriginal elements. This makes me feel a little like a sellout.So THE MAGICIANS AND MRS. QUENT is not going to win any prizes, but if you can¿t get enough of Austen and Bronte and don¿t mind when some rather illogical magickal elements are thrown in, you might consider checking this book out. It serves, at the very least, as great entertainment as you count how many phrases come right out of the two famous women¿s works.
Maaike15274 on LibraryThing 24 days ago
I loved this book. At first it read a little bit slow, which was frustrating because I was curious about several storylines. One of the characters, a naieve young man named Eldyn Garrett, was particurly frustrating, because of his silliness and patronizing behaviour towards his sister.Luckily, the main character, Ivy Lockwell, is neither silly or naieve. She is a wonderful heroine and I will certainly read any other books set in this world.
dalmador95 on LibraryThing 24 days ago
I wanted to like this book very much. I found it ponderous. I like the echos of the earlier works, Jane Eyre, et. al. and I liked Ivy, but I just couldn't bring myself to care much about the characters.
readinggeek451 on LibraryThing 24 days ago
This fantasy is unlike any other that I know. Part other-world fantasy, part Gothic novel, part Regency romance, part Victorian novel, all mixed into a unique blend. The plot takes a long time to get underway, but I was never bored. The world and its mysteries unfold slowly and naturally, never quite going where one expects. All the setup leads naturally to the very satisfactory conclusion, although at one point I feared that this was merely the first in a series, since there appeared to be insufficient time to tie up the strands of the plot. Happily, I was mistaken. (There is a sequel in the works, but this is a complete story in and of itself.)My only complaint is with the very odd day/night cycle--"lumenals" (daylight hours) and "umbrels" (dark hours) can range from a few hours to more than thirty, seemingly at random. The characters consult almanacs to know how long their days and nights will be. Although this is occasionally a plot point, it doesn't seem to have any real world-building reason, other than being strange. Instead, it was unnecessarily distracting.But that's a minor quibble. I thoroughly enjoyed this, and am looking forward to the sequel(s).
drneutron on LibraryThing 24 days ago
What happens when you cross [Pride and Prejudice], [Jane Eyre] and the best in historical fantasy? That's easy. [The Magicians and Mrs. Quent]. Galen Beckett's book is just that - a mix of classic Regency romance, gothic mystery and high fantasy. The world-building is first-class, the plot keeps things rolling nicely, and the prose is wonderful. And the best part is that there's more coming!
parelle on LibraryThing 24 days ago
Now, mind you, I do like a good fantasy novel, and this is better than most. But one thing's funny about this: I definitely thought throughout this book was written by a woman. And this really did clear it up a bit - at the end of the book, the premise is given: What if there was a fantastical cause underlying the social constraints and limited choices confronting a heroine in a novel by Jane Austen or Charlotte Brontë? Because, echos, nay, downright repetitions of both of those authors' works were easily present here (along as Dickens, as Orson Scott Card noted). Come now, inverting "You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you" to "confess how profoundly [X:] both admired and loved [Y:]" isn't going to disguise the source (well, particularly for anyone who grew up on Colin Firth's rendition of it!) And really, I won't spoil the book for anyone else curious about it, but trust me, the second section? Oh yes, name the book! At the same time, there was very much something I enjoyed about the world created here. It's undeniable that his skill with secondary characters is quite something - even if I find the (three) main characters to be a bit bland (and sadly predictable) at times. While the Regency period may have been suggested, but with the very urban feel of the beginning, I leaned more to towards the Gilded Age (also, really, too much social interaction between men & women for anything much earlier). It's still a world fully formed though, with a history - and, more importantly, and uncertain future. And to find that out, and follow the not-completely-resolved mysteries to their ends, will I wait for its sequel. One last note: I didn't have the cover on hand when I read the book (as it was borrowed from a friend and I didn't want anything to happen to the slipjacket). However, I definitely think that was for the better - a pretty enough cover and more accurate than many but I think I enjoyed imagining things for myself. I'd also be curious to know if any other titles were considered - not that I could come up with one myself.
Sorrel on LibraryThing 24 days ago
The Magicians and Mrs. Quent is written in the style of a historical novel, but is not actually a historical novel because it takes part in a world that is a little different from our own. It is a cleverly constructed story, which I read with great satisfaction. I particularly enjoyed some of the literary references, which are not mere name-dropping episodes (though they are also not, and nor do they presume to be, subtle) but seamlessly integrated details that gave a greater sense of accessibility to a world that was in other ways strange and unique. I recommend it.
Silvernfire on LibraryThing 24 days ago
The book's premise is straightforward enough: what would a book like Pride and Prejudice or Jane Eyre be like if it was also a fantasy novel? The problem is that Beckett borrows freely from those books as well as others, and the story is forced to follow their plotlines rather than its own. Only the last third of the book really flows, since that's where Beckett can no longer pull in other plots. Since Pride and Prejudice is written in the third person while Jane Eyre is written in first person, this book ends up trying to use both and they just don't mesh well. Beckett has come up with an original storyline and interesting characters. This is a good novel when Beckett is being original, and I wish the author had been confident enough to rely less on other works and had just gone ahead and written the story he or she wanted to write.
lalawe on LibraryThing 24 days ago
An interesting take on Regency-era novels with magic. While the worldbuilding and basic premise were interesting, the novel failed from borrowing too much from previous Regency classics - there's one particularly annoying section of the book that is practically a copy of Jane Eyre and nearly ruined the book for me. But still, despite its flaws, I enjoyed this, and I'm looking forward to the sequel.
kbegg on LibraryThing 24 days ago
Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte meets Harry Potter. Divided into three books, the first is an Austin-like Regency romance, the second basically a riff on Jane Eyre, and the third a conclusion that naturally leads into a second book. Despite leaning heavily on these influences, there's some solid world-building here. Likely to entertain fans of Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.
icedtea on LibraryThing 24 days ago
While I liked the magic and world building, going into Jane Eyre mode wasn't a plus for me. I'd probably pick up the next two books in the series to see what happens to everyone, although not in a hurry.
theepicrat on LibraryThing 24 days ago
The writing was superb, but frankly the story itself did not intrigue me enough to even finish the book. I thought there would have been a little more action, but when action came, it was not what I had expected. I was more than disappointed with this book.
nessreader on LibraryThing 24 days ago
A romantic comedy of manners in a world with spells and imperialism. Love this book to the point of madness, and think if there is any justice it will do superbly in massmarket. 1st of a projected fantasy series, set in a victorian flavoured world with echoes of literary England (governesses from Bronte, anxious genteel spinsters from Austen, a housekeeper suggestive of the BDSM Mrs Danvers from Rebecca, pallid children with supernatural secrets, gothic locked rooms, woods that walk like renegade ents, traitors, highwaymen.. this book is crammed with melodrama and literary allusion) I liked it the better because the looming love story got stalled by lack of money, and the heroine shows no signs of pining. It has an ensemble cast, and there are sympathetic characters on opposing political sides.There are loose ends at the end - the sequel is something to look forward to.A possible read for people who loved Sorcery and Cecelia.
Shrike58 on LibraryThing 24 days ago
When my book group decided on this work I'll admit that I was not very enthusiastic, seeing as Jane Austen meets magic is not my normal thing, but I plowed onward. My final opinion: Jane Austen meets magic is still not my thing. This is not to say that the book is badly written, but the affectation of it all just wearied me after awhile. Maybe I'll give it another chance sometime.