Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Magicians and Mrs. Quent

The Magicians and Mrs. Quent (Mrs. Quent, #1)The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen Beckett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Format: Hardback (from library)
Narrated By: NA
Original Publication Year: 2008
Genre(s): Fantasy, Historical
Series: Mrs. Quent # 1
Awards: None

I’ve been reading a couple of books lately that are taking me forever to read. It’s not always the book’s fault - sometimes it has more to do with my mood and whether the book is fitting it. The Magicians and Mrs. Quent is a book that combines fantasy, historical fiction, romance and strong elements of the English classics. I quite honestly can’t imagine ever not being in the mood for a book with all of that. So I’m pretty sure the fact that it took me so long to get through the book had more to do with the book then my reading mood.

It is a book in three parts with each part attempting to mimic some of the English classics. Section 1 - Jane Austen, Section 2 - Jane Eyre, and Section 3 - Charles Dickens. It is also presented from three different character’s perspectives. Ivy Lockwell who lives a shabby genteel sort of existence with her mother, two sisters, and her mentally debilitated father, is the primary character present in all three sections. She is driven by trying to find a cure for her father’s mental illness which was the result of a magical event gone wrong. While Ivy’s was my favorite of the three perspectives my liking for her had some limits. She is definitely of the Elinor Dashwood type of heroine – a tower of strength but always proper and in control of herself, practical, abhorrent of any impropriety or outward emotion. I find characters such as this admirable but I also find it hard to really feel close to or like them too well. Dashton Rafferdy is a Lord’s son several stations above Ivy and does his best to be droll and responsible for nothing. Eldyn Garritt is a friend of Rafferdy’s who is struggling to make ends meet for he and his sister after their deceased father ruined the family. The setting is Altania which is basically 19th century England but with the existence of magic and a crazy day/night schedule (day and night length vary daily – odd this is the second book I’ve read recently that has had this kind of set up). There is a King and Parliament which are weak and out of touch and who are facing rebellion. Magic is a diminished force compared to their past and it is a power meant to be wielded by men only.

The three parts of the book are pretty distinctive. As I mentioned above, each part followed the model of an English classic and they also focus on distinctive parts of the story. Part one, which is roughly 200 pages, is mostly set up. Part two stays with Ivy and follows her to a remote estate where she serves as governess in a lonely and mysterious estate with a formidable owner. This part worked best for me. Part three returns to the storylines started in part 1 and roughly conclude them while leaving some strings unattached for a second book.

What I liked:
The setting was interesting and felt fully fleshed out with a meaningful history and current political crisis. This is really where this book excelled for me. I also like that the primary(ish) romance in the book was somewhat unconventional. The middle section of the book taking place on the remote estate worked very well and was the only time I was really glued to reading. The plot has many threads and with many directions it can go in the future though care was taken to provide some closure to most of the threads.

What I didn’t love:
None of the characters really did anything for me. Ivy was too good, Rafferdy too stereotypical and Eldyn was just weird. I think the storyline that bothered me the most is Eldyn’s. He has a sister that he almost literally keeps locked in a hotel room for weeks and his relationship with her is just odd. In general how he reacts and interacts with other characters didn’t make sense to me. He came across as stupid, self-absorbed and at times downright misogynistic but we’re meant to feel sorry for him and think of him as good and honorable. I could tell that the author threw in some things to try and ensure Eldyn was sympathetic but he and the storyline did not work for me. The attempt to include elements of Austen, Bronte and Dickens was kind of cool but it was a little TOO those things – it just came across as a poor rip off rather than something unique with the flavor of those authors. And there was a good bit of characters-doing-silly-things-that-don’t-make-sense-just-to-make-the-plot-work. For example, Ivy’s driving force in the first third of the book was to discover the secret of her Father’s history and affliction, and yet she neglects to ever ask Mr. Quent, who is an old friend of the family, how he knew her father, what their relationship was, what did he know about her father’s illness etc… It made zero sense that these would not be at the forefront of her mind especially as things develop. He does eventually tell her of his own accord but it is odd that she never asks.

The final verdict was that this was an okay read. I’m not sure if that is enough to vault me into reading book two but I definitely feel no drive to pick it up right away. I’m disappointed that I did not love it more considering that it has so many elements I love but it happens.

Has anybody read this one and continued on to book two?  Is it worth continuing?

View all my reviews

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