Children's Literacy Round-Up: June 29
Books Read in June

The Magic Thief: Lost: Sarah Prineas

Book: The Magic Thief: Lost (Book 2)
Author: Sarah Prineas
Illustrator: Antonio Javier Caparo
Pages: 400
Age Range: 9-12 

Magic Thief LostI read and reviewed The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas just a couple of weeks ago. I found it highly satisfying, and immediately requested the second book in the series from my library. I read The Magic Thief: Lost in an afternoon. I had some other things going on, but whenever I had five minutes to spare, I found myself sneaking the book open. And often the five minutes would expand a bit... The second Magic Thief book is as engaging as the first.

The Magic Thief: Lost picks up a few months after the conclusion of the first book. (If you haven't read the first one, don't read this review now -- go and read The Magic Thief instead). Young wizard's apprentice Conn is attempting to recover from the destruction of his locus magicalus. He is not permitted to go back to school, allegedly because he has no locus magicalus. Really, however, it's because the magisters are afraid of his radical idea that the magic that powers their city is actually a sentient being. Conn is desperate to be able to communicate with the magic, and believes, in the absence of his own talisman, that he has to use pyrotechnics (controlled explosions) to do it. Naturally enough, his experiments with fireworks get him into trouble with Nevery, the magisters, and the Duchess of Wellmet. And yet, Conn perseveres, and endures great suffering in his quest to help his city's magic. The magic that has always protected him.  

I don't have a whole lot new to say about this book, having just reviewed The Magic Thief. I liked everything in Lost that I liked about the first book: the setting, the language, the characters, and the plotting. In general, I enjoyed the immersion into Conn's world. The Magic Thief: Lost is a bit darker than the first book, which seems to be the pattern for middle grade fantasy series. I was shocked and saddened by one turn of events, but I think that my strong reaction is a mark of Sarah Prineas' success at three-dimensional world-building. There are a couple of new characters in Lost, and we get to know some of the previous characters to greater depth (though I did wish to see more of Benet). Passages from Rowan's journal are included - giving her an occasional first-person viewpoint.

As in the previous book, what I like best about The Magic Thief: Lost is Conn's voice - a blend of quirky eloquence and cocky humor. Here are a few passages that caught my eye (selected from many possible choices):

"Then I'd told the magisters that the magic was a living being that protected the city. It had been like a pyrotechnic experiment. Take a room full of old croakety-croak magisters, add a new idea, and it was just like combining slowsilver and tourmalifine. They exploded, saying I was an ignorant gutterboy who didn't know any better."  (Page 22)

"I lay in my bed with tiredness covering me like a pricky blanket and looked up at the sloped ceiling, the cracked white-gray plaster, the spiderwebs in the corners. The air smelled of the ashes left in the hearth; from outside I heard the faint sounds of Benet in the courtyard chopping wood, and the rushrushrush of the river." (Page 98-99)

"He (Nevery) frowned across the table at me. "I don't suppose there's any point in ordering you to stay home.'"

I didn't see much point in it, no." (Page 122)

This is a book that would make a great family or classroom read-aloud. I love the multi-sensory descriptions. I also like the way that Conn never loses sight of his gutterboy background. He sees locks as waiting to be picked, and notes that a public event is likely to draw out pickpockets. Prineas also manages to slip in the occasional advanced vocabulary word (e.g. "recalcitrant apprentice"), always in an authentic manner. In short, I think that The Magic Thief: Lost lives up to the promise of the first book, and I look forward to Conn's next adventure.

Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: May 12, 2009
Source of Book: Library copy
Other Blog Reviews: Eva's Book Addiction, Charlotte's Library, Lauren the Bookworm
Author Interviews: A Chair, A Fireplace, and A Tea Cozy, A Year of Reading

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.