Title: Stolen Magic (US) / A Reckless Magick (UK)
Author: Stephanie Burgis
Genre: Fantasy, Historical, Middle Grade, Mystery
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (US) / Templar (UK)
Publication Date: April 2013 (US) / October 2012 (UK)
Hardcover: 400 Pages
In this conclusion to the Regency-era fantasy trilogy Kirkus Reviews calls “enjoyable mayhem,” Kat is tasked with saving her family, the Order of the Guardians, and England itself.
With just days to go before her sister Angeline’s long-delayed wedding to Frederick Carlyle, the impetuous Kat Stephenson has resigned herself to good behavior. But Kat’s initiation into the magical Order of the Guardians is fast approaching, and trouble seems to follow her everywhere.
First, Kat must contend with the wretched Mrs. Carlyle’s attempts to humiliate her sister; the arrival of the mysterious Marquise de Valmont, who bears suspicious resemblance to Kat’s late mother; and Frederick’s bewitching cousin Jane, who has Charles Stephenson tripping over his feet. But when a menacing boy with powerful magic starts hunting Kat, a dastardly villain tries to kill Angeline, and the Guardians face a magical robbery that could spell the end of their Order, propriety becomes the least of Kat’s concerns.
Can Kat save her sister’s life, the Order of the Guardians, and England itself before it’s too late?
Stand alone or series: Book 3 in the Kat Stephenson trilogy
How did I get this book: Review Copy from the Publisher
Format (e- or p-): Print review copy
Why did I read this book: I adore Kat Stephenson – ever since author Stephanie Burgis reached out to us about reviewing books 1 and 2 in the series, I have been a huge fan and on tenterhooks for Stolen Magic.
**WARNING: This review contains slight, but unavoidable, spoilers for the first two books in this series. If you haven’t read the first two books in the series and want to remain unspoiled, look away.**
After the dramatic turn of events at Bath, Kat Stephenson has managed to save her elder siblings from disaster and earn back the respect of her fellow Guardians – having stopped the traitorous machinations of the former head of the order. Now, just a few days away from Angeline’s marriage to Lord Frederick Carlyle, Kat faces one of her most daunting challenges yet: preparing for her upcoming Guardian initiation test while trying to keep the peace between her family and the less-than-enthused Carlyles. To make things even worse, it seems that someone is out to seriously injure Kat and her family, as a mysterious saboteur follows the Stephensons across the countryside. And Kat has a sinking suspicion that the very same saboteur is the person behind the Guardians’ stolen cache of magical Portals. With her sister’s marriage, her family’s lives, and the future of England at stake, Kat is up against her biggest challenge yet.
Well. Excuse me while I take this opportunity to gush because OH MY GOODNESS, I absolutely adored this third (and hopefully not final) Kat Stephenson adventure from hilarious start to heartwarming finish. I can safely say that Kat is one of my very favorite middle grade heroines ever – not just because she’s smart, headstrong, and impetuous, but because she’s got a great burning curiosity and an equally fiery temper, and at the heart of everything she is and does, Kat is a young woman with a deep sense of justice and love. Love for her family and for the new friends she makes along the way, and love for her position and magical abilities as a Guardian. This, dear readers, is freaking AMAZING.
What’s extra-special and compelling about this newest Kat adventure, however, is more than just the sum of these different attributes (which Kat has had since the beginning). No, Stolen Magic is so wonderful and in a way bittersweet, because it’s the book where Kat starts to grow up. She manages on several occasions to bite her tongue and control her temper. She takes responsibility for her actions and for those around her by not just rushing into action willy nilly (ok, she does still run headlong into danger, but there’s more of a thoughtful reasoning process to it all), but by thinking and then acting. It’s also the book where Kat turns thirteen, where her second older sister gets married, and her brother reforms his ways and finds romance. (And so too, in a subtle and believable way, does Kat.)
And this character growth isn’t just limited to Kat, either. As I mentioned, Charles, Kat’s older brother, renounces drinking and gambling after the sobering experience of nearly being sacrificed to the wild, pagan magic of Bath in Renegade Magic. Angeline, the second eldest Stephenson sister, finds a way to trust others (including her fiancee) after a few misguided attempts to taking on the world by herself and her witchcraft. And, most intriguingly, we finally learn more about Kat’s father, the quiet, bookish, withdrawn Mr. Stephenson – we know he has been harboring secrets about his past, and most importantly, his late wife. We are also introduced to new characters in this book, with the sophisticated and elusive Marquise de Valmont (who also plays a role in the Stephenson family past) and the sweet-tempered Jane Carlyle among my favorites.
Beyond the phenomenal character building, Stolen Magic is also a mystery with a few good twists. There’s the mystery of the stolen Guardian portals to contend with, compounded by the mystery of Kat’s mysterious stalker with a vendetta, and the mounting, frightening threats against the Stephenson family (from a sawed carriage axle to an honest-to-goodness assassination attempt). And, of course, there’s plenty of magic and daring-do – even a little bit of treason! – thrown into the mix. Oh yes, and let’s not forget about the romantic shenanigans and comedy of errors type storytelling also happening simultaneously.
Needless to say, there is PLENTY going on in Stolen Magic – and it all boils down to one truth that should be universally acknowledged. That is, Kat Stephenson is the Real Deal. I absolutely, wholeheartedly loved this book, and I dearly hope to see more of Kat in the future. Absolutely recommended, and in the running for one of my favorite, notable reads of 2013.
Notable Quotes/Parts: From Chapter 1:
Despite what either of my sisters may say, I actually possess a great deal of common sense. That was why I waited until nearly midnight on the last night of our journey into Devon before I climbed out of my bedroom window.
Luckily, my family was staying on the first floor of the inn, so the rope I’d brought along in case of emergencies was more than long enough. Luckier yet, I knew a useful secret: it’s much easier to sneak out in the middle of the night when you can make yourself invisible.
I landed on the grass with a thud that sent the rope jerking hard against the window’s edge. It was the moment of truth: I held my breath, watching the darkened window and searching for the faintest sign of an outraged older sister awake and ready to use all of her considerable powers – even scandalous witchcraft – to try to force me back to safety.
Nothing. My shoulders relaxed.
Not for the first time, I blessed my sister Angeline for the fact that she slept like the dead. If our older sister Elissa had been the one sharing a room with me, the noise would have woken her in an instant, and then there would have been goodness only knows how much commotion and offended propriety.
It was the first time I’d actually been glad that she was gone.
You can read the first 3 chapters online HERE.
Additional Thoughts: Make sure to check out Stephanie Burgis’ awesome guest post today – plus enter for a chance to win a copy of Stolen Magic!
Rating: 8 – Excellent, leaning towards a 9
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