SORCERER TO THE CROWN
REPRESENTATION: Black Protagonist, Mixed Race WoC Protagonist
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: YA, Historical Fantasy
In Regency London, Zacharias Wythe is England’s first African Sorcerer Royal. And that’s only the first of his problems. He must juggle the conflicting demands of a wayward Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, where a faction schemes to remove him from his position by fair means or foul. He must cope with the Fairy Court refusing to grant Britain the magical resources it needs. And now the British Government is avid to deploy this increasingly scare magic in its war with France. He must also contend with rumors that he murdered his predecessor and guardian, Sir Stephen Wythe. But this task would be easier if Sir Stephen’s ghost would just stop following him around. And now he has to deal with something even more outrageous than any of these things: a female magical prodigy.
I absolutely, freaking adored Sorcerer to the Crown. I flew through it. I have no criticisms. I’ve seen it compared to Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. Honesty? I thought it was light-years better.
I loved the Regency England setting, which felt really believable. I loved the plot — a society of snotty, backstabbing, bitchy sorcerers and just a dash of fairyland. I’m not going to linger on the world-building or the plot though, just assume it was brilliant.
But the characters… The characters! I am broken. If you liked the dynamic between Kell and Lila in A Darker Shade of Magic you need to read all about hard-working, loyal Hufflepuff Zacharias and cunning, ambitious, Slytherin Prunella, and their close-to-the-vest romantic feelings. As much I did loved Zacharias, Prunella was absolutely the star of this story for me. It’s so rare to see this type of personality be the protagonist of a story, with no hints that they’re actually the villain or a horrible person. Even less common is for this to be a woman. My little Slytherin soul was practically vibrating throughout.
I loved Prunella. I loved how determined she was, how straight-forward her thinking and problem-solving was, how it occasionally got her into sticky situations. I also thought, from a historical fiction point of view, her reactions and reasoning made her all the more believable. Although romance and getting married isn’t her ultimate goal, there’s none of the not-like-other-girls-ing, or out of place modern attitudes that so often pop up in these stories. Prunella knows what her options are, and knows how to play to her strengths and aim for the most realistically positive outcome. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I felt so connected to a character.
Run, don’t walk. I’m so incredibly happy that the sequel will be coming out this year.