Monday, January 21, 2019

MG Fantasy/Magic Review: Sorcery for Beginners by Matt Harry

33534892Sorcery for Beginners by Matt Harry
Format:  Paperback
Publisher: Inkshares
Number of Pages: 400
Published:  October 10th, 2017
Source:  Review copy provided by Inkshares in exchange for an honest review.
Find it:  Amazon, B&N, Inkshares, Goodreads
Opening Line:  "Snow fell on St. Petersburg as the young sorceress ran for her life."  

13-year-old Owen Macready considers himself an average kid who gets average grades, has average looks and doesn't want to put forth the effort for sports.  He's not brave or strong, but that's also perfectly fine with him because being average leaves him with plenty of time to play games on his computer.  Recently, Owen's mom decided she wanted a challenge in her career as a veterinarian, so she moved to Sumatra to care for orangutans, and Owen and his dad moved to Las Vegas.   Shortly after starting his new school, Owen tries to intervene when he sees a boy who's being bullied only to have the bully turn on him.  Trying to find a place to hide, he runs into the nearest store, the Codex Arcanum.  It's within this magic bookstore that he meets Euphemia Whitmore and purchases Sorcery for Beginners, a book designed to teach you how to perform magic.  While skimming through the pages of his new book, Owen gets a glimpse of a spell that can rewrite history and believes that if he can learn how to cast this spell he can fix his family and bring his life back to the way it was before his mom left.   Ms. Whitmore cautions him that the book comes with a few rules, he must follow the books directions to learn the spells in order, keep the book's existence a secret and defend it against their worst enemies, the Eculidean's, a secret society of mercenaries who for 500 years have been trying to get their hands on the book. If he's successful, Owen will be eligible to take a final exam and receive his Sorcery Learners Permit and be inducted into their society.   Just as Owen starts getting closer to performing real magic, he not only attracts the attention of the Euclidean's, he also has a run in with the father of the bully he encountered before, a ruthless millionaire who wants to steal magic for himself.  Owen is stuck battling the two sides while trying desperately to keep the Sorcery for Beginners from falling into the wrong hands.  

Sorcery for Beginners is the combination of the fictional story of Owen Macready with a textbook/how to manual for performing magic.   I really enjoyed the illustrations by Juliane Crump and especially the full page spread for each spell.   Each intricate drawing included the hand or body movements needing to be performed, detailed step by step instructions, the materials or components required and the activation words to be spoken to cast the spell.   The activation words included Latin, Greek, Latvian, Arabic or Icelandic words and came with the pronunciation for each word.  Every few pages there were also sidebars providing tidbits of information, or defining the terms being used.  Some I felt weren't overly necessary, like defining the word parchment or what knack meant.  But others like explaining what the Key of Solomon or what a grimoire is,  elaborated on details in the storyline or added some magical historical context to the story.   In this way, it felt like you were learning right along with Owen. 

In addition to the illustrations, I really liked the overall look of the book, everything from the visually appealing cover to the thick pieces of paper with their untrimmed or uncut edges making up the pages of the book (I've come to learn this is referred to as deckled edges).  My favorite thing about the story is the way in which the book speaks to Owen, how it seems to read his thoughts and writes out what Owen needs to do in order to be successful.  Owen can't just rush ahead to perform the spell he wants to perform, that he has to go through each of the steps to get to where he wants to be, while also learning that to undo an event may not be in his best interest after all.  They make for a fun team.  Overall the story is not only informative, full of fun facts and delightful illustrations, but it's also the kind of book I can easily see appealing to aspiring sorcerers or fans of magic.  The story concludes with an Epilogue setting up the story for book two about Cryptozoology, but Sorcery for Beginners can easily be read as a stand-alone.  I'm certainly looking forward to seeing what Matt Harry comes up with next.      

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Brenda! CRYPTOZOOLOGY FOR BEGINNERS comes out later this year!
    --Matt Harry