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Book Review – Sorcerer to the Crown

I received Sorcerer to the Crown through NetGalley, and while I enjoyed the book, it wasn’t really what I had expected. This story by newcomer Zen Cho is set in Regency London and is a light and fun adventure filled with magic, humor, social commentary, and a little romance. Sorcerer to the Crown is a stand-alone novel that could be followed by more books in this alternate world.

sorcerer_front mech.indd

Zacharias Wythe was seized from his home as a child, sold into slavery, and raised in England by Sir Stephen, England’s Sorcerer Royal. He is freed and raised much like a son to the sorcerer and trained in magic as well. Zacharias inadvertently inherits his mentor’s position as Sorcerer Royal after Sir Stephen dies under mysterious circumstances. This shrouds Zacharias in suspicion, and with his race already making him an outsider amongst the London social elite, the other sorcerers in England plot against him.

The true protagonist of the novel is Prunella, a young lady who teaches at a school for magically gifted girls. However, it is unseemly for women to use magic, so the true purpose of the school is to teach the ladies how to avoid using their powers. Prunella is particularly gifted, but runs into trouble when Zacharias Wythe visits the school. She leaves with the new Sorcerer Royal and hopes to learn more about her powers and her past.

The plot weaves back and forth between these two, with Prunella struggling to master her magic while keeping some dangerous secrets. Zacharias works to discover why England is running out of magic, a problem likely linked to the Faerie realm.

I found the story to be light and engaging and the plot drew me in. Prunella is a fantastic character, and overshadows Zacharias with her audacity and bravery. I don’t read a lot of books set in this time period, but to someone who isn’t overly familiar with Regency novels, the historical aspects worked and nothing seemed out of place.

The mysteries behind Sir Stephen’s death and Prunella’s past are all cleared up in a satisfying way. While the stakes are high, the outcome is logical and happy, as befits the overall tone of the book.

I’ll be looking out for more books from Zen Cho in the future.

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Looking for a Few Reviewers

Is anyone out there interested in becoming a book reviewer? I’m looking for a handful of new reviewers over at Book Spot Central for genre novels. The site covers mainly fantasy and science fiction, but books with some mystery or romance elements are fine. You can also review graphic novels.

Benefits include the ability to get a Net Galley account where you can find e-book advance review copies of the latest books. If you may be interested, fill out the form below explaining why you want to write book reviews and a link to anything similar that you’ve written (or paste it into the other box if it isn’t available online).

Book Review – Grimspace by Ann Aguirre

Grimspace
By Ann Aguirre
Ace (2008)

I can’t remember who recommended this book to me, but I have had it on my to-read shelf for about a year. It looked to be a quick read and I decided to plunge into it while waiting for another book to arrive in the mail.

Grimspace Cover

Grimspace is the debut novel by author Ann Aguirre and the first book in the Sirantha Jax series. The story is set in a world in which interstellar travel is possible by using paired pilot-jumper teams. Jumpers are rare – born with the J-gene that allows them to enter grimspace and follow the beacons left by an alien race. They are also monopolized by the Corp, the organization that identifies, trains, and employs them until many suffer a fatal burn out.

Sirantha Jax is an extraordinary jumper who is psychologically broken, and that is what makes her such a fascinating protagonist in this novel. Imprisoned for “treatment” after a catastrophic accident on her last trip, she is grieving her former pilot/lover who was lost in the crash. Jax has been interrogated by the Corp and although she has no memory of the events leading up to the crash, she feels incredibly guilty over the loss of life.

When she is rescued from her cell by an abrasive stranger, Jax is thrust back into her role as a jumper. Caught up in the schemes of her rescuers and their mysterious leader, Marsh, Jax finds herself running from the Corp and her past. This book was also a romance, and it was intriguing to follow the relationship between Jax and Marsh because he had his own dark past to rival that of Jax. This forces him to keep his emotions bottled up and his motivations are initially unclear.

As a first novel, this was a solid read. There were a few hiccups initially, where I felt like I had missed some explanation about the technology or the characters. By the time I was halfway through the book, I was engrossed in the story. The plot was unpredictable but logically followed the characters’ motivations, and by the time I finished reading, I decided that I adored this book. There is enough of a resolution in this first novel for it to serve as a stand-alone read, with just enough unanswered questions to leave me wanting more. I plan to pick up the next volume in the Sirantha Jax series soon.

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