Sunday, April 29, 2012

At the House of the Magician - Mary Hooper

Title: At the House of the Magician

Author: Mary Hooper

Publication information: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (2007)

Lucy escapes her poor village and drunk abusive father in search of work and money to provide her mother with a better way of life. This story follows her in seeking employment and then the adventures and events that surround her when her luck turns, and she finds herself employed by the somewhat mysterious Dr Dee.

At the House of the Magician is an historical fiction with some supernatural aspects revolving around Lucy, the protagonist of the novel. I think that most of the historical aspects seemed believable; set during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the troubles between the monarch and Mary Queen of Scots is briefly discussed and the grandure of the palace and the queens clothes are described in great detail. At the end of the book, after the end of the story itself, the author provides some background to the history and the setting of the novel and I think that this makes it a lot more believable and helps, in hindsight, to establish the way of life of the inhabitants of Elizabethan England.

To me, the plot was quite slow and not much happened until the end of the novel. Although at first this was quite disappointing, I soon found out that there is also a sequel which may have played a part in the reasoning behind giving this story such an abrupt ending. 

Lucy, the main character, is quite interesting and the reader gets to learn quite a lot about her background and family, as well as her adventurous side which is explored more as the story develops. Some of the side characters were not very well developed and I found that this led to some of them being insignificant to the story but this may change in the sequel, which I plan to read at some point in the future. I really like the character of Mistress Midge because her bad temper and her attitude added some comedic aspects to the book. I also really liked Tomas, the court fool, as I thought there was aspects of romantic tention between him and the protagonist which I hope will be explored in the second installment of the series. 

The writing was very simple and easy to understand. This meant that although, at first, I found the novel difficult to get into, it became a quick read, having only 228 pages. Also, the lettering is quite large on the page which made it a lot quicker. I like that the author included some words that are not used nowadays, but were used when the story is set, as this makes it a lot more believable and I like that a glossary was provided at the back of the book so you could look up the meanings for some of these disused words.

Overall, I was slightly disappointed with this book as I expected a lot more adventure and mystery than there was, but again, this may be addresseed in the sequel. Also, having read the book, I have decided that I do not really liked the cover as I believe that a cover, if it shows a person, should show the protagonist. In this case, Lucy is said to have dark eyes and brown hair, whereas the photograph on the cover is fair-haired and has blue eyes. Considering my opinions of the book overall, I would give this 3 out of 5 stars but am intrigued to see if the second installment of the series develops the storyline better than this one so far.

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