Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Analyzing The Magic Thief, by Sarah Prineas

Switching back to an example of a middle grade novel, after tackling a few young adult novels. (My next sample will be a new genre for me: steampunk. Soulless, by Gail Carriger).

A synopsis of the Magic Thief can be found in its first four sentences:

A thief is a lot like a wizard. I have quick hands. And I can make things disappear. But then I stole a wizard's locus magicalus and nearly disappeared myself forever.

A great beginning and I'm envious because in exactly 31 words we get a plot, two characters, a hint of voice, and we're hooked.

The book is written in first person point-of-view, which is difficult to carry throughout an entire novel because it takes some real engineering to fill the reader in on all the necessary information that the first person narrator isn't privy to. The author circumvents this problem by starting each chapter with notes from the wizard's journal. So we get to see another character's point-of-view and voice and that helps this novel considerably by adding variety.

The ending had a really, REALLY, cool surprise. Here's a just a little bit to tempt you:
"Here _______," I whispered again. Within the tank, the ________ stilled, shifted, and focused itself on my locus magicalus, on me. It was like looking up at a night sky full of stars and having the stars suddenly look back.

Isn't that cool? There are snippets of similar magical writing throughout the book. I admit I've been harsh on this book, but it is still worth the read.

Just for fun, try to fill in the blanks in the quote above. What do you think it is?

P.S. Each entry in the wizard's journal includes some runes and at the end of the book you get the key to interpreting the runes, so this is an extra little bonus/game for kids. The second book in the series is available now, too.

P.P.S. I read several of Sarah Prineas' short stories on the Online Writing Workshop for SF & Fantasy at least ten years ago before she was published. Proof that getting your work out in workshops & on the web really does work. I might not have picked up this book to read it if the author's name hadn't rang a bell.


  1. Makes you realize how important the storyline is, doesn't it? :) I LOVED The Lightning Thief! I read it so my daughter could read it.

    Even the movie tickled me.

  2. Interesting comment on the Online Writing Workshop. My nose is wrinkling because I hate computers, and the world is inserting them into my brain.

  3. Huh, wondering if The Kiddo would like this book, and if maybe I remember seeing this exact same synop on Miss Snark or some other website some years ago?? It seems familiar, and I thought it fantabulous then.

    And you remind us well that the stakes have to be kept high -- and at the forefront the whole time.

  4. Thanks for the honest review. I'll admit it isn't a book I'm tempted to pick up, especially since I prefer YA. But I'll keep it in mind for my kids.

    I agree with you on The Lightning Thief. That was well written, funny, and gripping.

    I saw you name listed on Fiction Groupie for a beta partner and thought I'd check you out.:D

  5. Great Review Margo! I should really read this and see what I will think of it! I have not even read the Lightning Thief. I really have to catch up on my reading :)

  6. wow what an excellent review, Margo! hmmmm.. must make another trip to the bookstore..

  7. It still sounds like an awesome book. However, it drives me crazy when a published author doesn't keep the stakes high...don't they want their readers invested in the story?? I think I'll still give it a read.

    Okay, blanks:
    "Here Kitty," I whispered again. Within the tank, the alien monkey-cat hybrid stilled, shifted, and focused itself on my locus magicalus, on me. It was like looking up at a night sky full of stars and having the stars suddenly look back.

    fun. thanks!

  8. Oh well, I myself liked the quotidian aspects of the book very much indeed! To each her own...

  9. Just to clarify--by quotidian I mean the common, everyday stuff--the chores and the food and the knitting! I am rather fond of the word quotidian, and perhaps over use it :)



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