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Stephanie Burgis – Kat, Incorrigible

April 4, 2011

44. Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis (2011) (also published as A Most Improper Magick in the UK)
The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson, Book 1

Length: 298 pages
Genre: Mid-grade Regency Fantasy

Started: 19 March 2011
Finished: 21 March 2011

Where did it come from? From the publishers for review.
Why do I have it? I like fantasies of manners, and the description sounded like fun.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 23 January 2011.

No proper lady
does magic, so it’s lucky
Kat’s anything but!

Summary: Miss Katherine Stephenson’s family teeters at the edge of respectable society, despite her stepmother’s best efforts to secure good marriages for Kat’s elder sisters. But Kat’s mother openly practiced magic, which is hardly an occupation of a lady of quality, and that scandal still clings to the family. What’s worse, Kat seems to have inherited her mother’s talent for magic, and now must use it to save her family. Her sister Angeline has been dabbling in love spells herself, with disastrous results, and her eldest sister Elissa is considering a match with the much-older Sir Neville, a wealthy widower whose first wife died under mysterious circumstances. Kat’s not trying to get in trouble, but somebody has to protect her sisters from their own decisions, and it looks like it’s all up to Kat.

Review: Kat, Incorrigible was a wonderfully charming little fantasy of manners, which is a subgenre that I enjoy more and more the more I read of it. This book felt like a combination of Magician’s Ward, Sorcery & Cecelia, and the Flavia de Luce books, although geared to a younger age set, and it was just as much fun as any of those. I hesitate to use the word “romp” for fear of cliche, but it really feels appropriate here; there’s plenty of sneaking around in crumbling abbeys and being threatened by highwaymen to go along with the period dresses and society etiquette and marriage negotiations. It was a little predictable in places, but overall, it was the perfect light-hearted read to improve my mood after a long day.

The book is being marketed as a mid-grade book, although I think that may be skewing a little young. There’s certainly nothing thematically inappropriate for mid-grade readers, but a lot of the charm of fantasy of manners books comes from being at least somewhat conversant with the conventions of Regency literature, which I don’t know that many mid-grade readers are. (I may be overgeneralizing based on my personal experience; I certainly wasn’t reading Austen or Heyer at that age, although it wouldn’t surprise me too much to hear that some girls are.) In any case, Kat, Incorrigible doesn’t have any of the stylistic issues that normally put me off mid-grade books, and I think it would appeal to YA readers as well. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: If you like fantasy of manners, this one’s a fun addition; if you like Regency novels but are not normally a fantasy reader, I think Kat, Incorrigible would be a light and easy introduction to the genre.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Erin Reads, My Love Affair with Books, Steph Su Reads
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: I was twelve years of age when I chopped off my hair, dressed as a boy, and set off to save my family from impending ruin.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. April 4, 2011 11:57 am

    I don’t read many fantasies and don’t even know what those sub-genres are. Since this if for younger readers, it might be just right for me.

    • April 11, 2011 10:37 am

      Kathy – Regency Fantasy / Fantasy-of-manners are usually used (at least, I usually use them) to describe fantasy novels that take place in a Regency Britain-like setting. Essentially, they’re like Jane Austen novels but set in a world in which magic exists. If you like Austen et al., Kat Incorrigible would definitely be a fun way to dip a toe into the fantasy genre.

  2. April 4, 2011 9:17 pm

    Ooh, I’ve been wondering if KAT, INCORRIGIBLE and A MOST IMPROPER MAGICK were one and the same! I first heard of this under the latter title, quite some time ago, and have been eagerly awaiting it ever since. It sounds wonderful!

    • April 11, 2011 10:38 am

      Memory – Yup, that’s a US/UK split, but the same book, according to everything that I can find. (Although it doesn’t help that, which is usually my source for such things, still has them listed as two separate books.)


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