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Angie Sage – Magyk

June 22, 2011

78. Magyk by Angie Sage (2005)
Septimus Heap, Book 1

Length: 580 pages
Genre: Mid-grade Fantasy

Started: 09 June 2011
Finished: 12 June 2011

Where did it come from? BookMooch / Free Kindle download.
Why do I have it? I don’t entirely remember, but it was probably on a list somewhere of suggested post-Harry Potter reading?
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 12 January 2009.

Being the lone girl
in a house with six boys is
tough, magic or no.

Summary: It was a fateful winter day: the Queen was murdered in her chamber by an Assassin, and power was seized by the Custodians; Sarah Heap gave birth to her seventh son, who died shortly thereafter; and her husband, the wizard Septimus Heap, found a baby girl abandoned in the snow. Ten years later, and that young girl has become Jenna, who has no idea that she is not a Heap by birth, but is actually the rightful Princess. As soon as she learns this, however, she’s in danger from the evil Necromancer DomDaniel, who wants to seize power for himself. Together with the Supreme Wizard Marcia Overstrand, Jenna, the rest of the Heaps, and a nameless boy they rescue from the Young Army must flee the city and hide themselves, with only their Magyk to protect them from DomDaniel’s Darke forces, and with little hope of ever restoring Jenna to her rightful place.

Review: Mid-grade fantasy is not my favorite genre. Young adult, fine & great, but I’ve read too many mid-grade novels that just don’t quite make the jump to adult readers (at least this adult reader.) So I’m always pleasantly surprised when I come across a mid-grade fantasy that is absorbing and enjoyable, and whose mid-grade-ness I don’t find overly distracting, and Magyk was one of those novels. (I could have done without the convention of capitalizing and bolding every Magical Term or Spell, though: too affectedly cutesy for my tastes.)

In a lot of ways, Magyk was pretty standard fantasy fare: the evil dark lord seizing power, the missing royal heir being raised by a poor family, none of this screams originality. Similarly, while younger readers might find the plot twists surprising, older readers should be able to spot Boy 412’s importance to the story from very early on. On the other hand, Sage is clever and inventive enough with the details of her world and her story that her use of fantasy tropes seems more like gently poking fun at the genre’s conventions, rather than slavishly adhering to them. There’s plenty of silly, quirky humor for the younger set, of course, but there’s also some sly snarkiness to a lot of the story that made it an enjoyable read for grownups as well. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Overall, I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would, and while I’m not dying to get my hands on the sequels, if they cross my path, I’ll certainly read them. Definitely recommended for young fantasy fans, and worthwhile for older fantasy readers who need something light and fun as a change of pace.

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First Line: Silas Heap pulled his cloak tightly around him against the snow.

Vocab: (see the whole list)

  • Location 3469: “Boy 412 knew he should really just go back to his book but somehow Thaumaturgy and Sortilage: Why Bother? was not as interesting as what Aunt Zelda was up to.” – the working of wonders or miracles; the drawing of lots for divination; both terms also just mean “magic”.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. June 22, 2011 6:23 pm

    I thought this book was okay. My only problem was how long it was! It seemed to go on forever.

    • June 29, 2011 9:12 am

      Alison – I didn’t really mind the length, surprisingly; there were a few places that I think could have been cut, but none where I really noticed it dragging.

  2. June 22, 2011 8:03 pm

    I have wanted to read this book for a while. Thanks for reminding me of it.

  3. June 23, 2011 8:34 pm

    I’ve looked at this one so many times: good to know that it was entertaining and that you enjoyed it more than you expected to. I’ll keep an eye out.

    • June 29, 2011 9:16 am

      BiP – It does read a bit younger than I was expecting given the size, but if you like mid-grade fantasy, you could definitely do worse!

  4. June 26, 2011 4:28 pm

    This book has been on my TBR pile for literally forever!

    • June 29, 2011 9:18 am

      Kailana – Hah! Mine too. I snagged the Kindle version when it was free a while ago, and started it when I needed something light to read when I was away from my bookshelves; I probably would have let the paper version sit on the TBR shelf for quite a while longer.

  5. July 7, 2011 1:06 am

    Sounds interesting enough to look into. I’m looking for fantasy books for my reluctant- reader granddaughter. This book might motivate her to sit more than ten minutes.

  6. September 30, 2012 10:04 am

    Interesting to see what you thought of the book. I thought it was a great read for a rainy day or somesuch, as it’s light, funny and a fairly easy read. Here’s my review:


  1. Fantasy Roundup: June 24, 2011 « The Tattered Scroll

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