Y’all, I’m applying for graduate school. It is stressful as hell. I’m telling you because the more people I tell, the more shaming it would be for me not to go through with it. And yes! I am using shame as a motivator! If it can beat the crap out of me every time I do something wrong, then by God I can make it work for me to do something constructive AND AWESOME. Since launching on this project of telling everyone, I have outlined my personal statement, asked for two recommendations, started an online application, and found the hard copy of my GRE scores. So there.
I mention this because all the anxiety of this has made it necessary for me to read very unstressful books. I had to take a break from The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher – although I am enjoying it! – because dude, a murder investigation has lots of facets. Lots of elements that all have to be tied down and managed before you can proceed. I am abandoning it not because it is sad that a three-year-old boy got murdered brutally (though that is sad) but because it reminds me too much of applying to grad school.
I read Mairelon the Magician instead. When I was a little girl, oh how I loved Patricia C. Wrede. I admired her desperately, and I even wrote her a letter to tell her so. AND SHE WROTE BACK. She wrote this lovely long letter where she told me how to be a proper writer (I still have a copy of it somewhere), and I believe that my ability to be objective about her books was shot to hell at that instant.
In my opinion – though maybe I just like Regency novels – Wrede is at her best with these alternate-England books set in Regency times, where magicians are part of the fabric of European society. Sorcery and Cecelia is my favorite of all her books, and I love Mairelon the Magician and its sequel, Magician’s Ward, nearly as much.
Guttersnipe Kim is caught snooping around in the caravan of a magician called Mairelon, and he takes her on as an assistant. As is wont to happen in books though not (I suspect) in real life. He is under suspicion for stealing a set of powerfully magical items; he has managed to recover one of them and is trying to track down the other five. And so, of course, is everyone else in the world. Hijinks ensue.
If you absolutely forced me to say something bad about Mairelon, I guess a case could be made for there being too many characters. They are always dashing out and in while you try frantically to remember who they are and what is motivating them to chase after Mairelon or the Saltash platter or each other. But more in a, you know, a bawdy French farce way, than in a literary flaw way. Mairelon the Magician is just fun, and friendly – there’s chicanery, and conjuring tricks, and dodgy Regency thugs. Hooray.
If you have written a (possibly less biased) review, let me know and I will link to it!