Monday, August 17, 2015

Review: Sorcerer to the Crown

Sorcerer to the Crown
by Zen Cho

Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Publisher: Ace
Cover Art: TK
Release Date: September 1, 2015
ISBN-13: 978-0425283370

(I received an Advanced Reader Copy in a Goodreads giveaway.)

"The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, one of the most respected organizations throughout all of England, has long been tasked with maintaining magic within His Majesty’s lands. But lately, the once proper institute has fallen into disgrace, naming an altogether unsuitable gentleman—a freed slave who doesn’t even have a familiar—as their Sorcerer Royal, and allowing England’s once profuse stores of magic to slowly bleed dry. At least they haven’t stooped so low as to allow women to practice what is obviously a man’s profession…

At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers and eminently proficient magician, ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up. But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…"

Sorcerer to the Crown is the debut novel of Zen Cho.  She's published some short fiction, and I've been hearing some good things about her so I decided to give this book a try after winning an ARC in the Goodreads giveaway contest.  It also has an eye-catching cover.

There's a lot to like about this book.  Both the magic and world-building, with their ties with the world and court of the fae, are very intriguing.  This is essentially Victorian-era Britain with magic.  It features a bit of diversity with both main characters being people of color who struggle to overcome the prejudices against them. 

Unfortunately, the novel didn't work for me.  There some small issues with pacing and plotting, but the big one for me was that this book is not only set in Victorian Britain, but it's also written in imitation of the Victorian Regency style.  So it's Victorian magic with manners.  This is hardly the first book with this style that I've read before, but this time I was really not in the mood for it.  I wish there had been more evidence for this in the blurb. 

So while the writing style didn't work for me, I gave it a decent rating because I know it should appeal to some readers. I probably won't rule out reading more by this author, perhaps some of her short stories.  It's also obvious this is the first book in a series so I may give the next book a try too.

Rating: 7/10.

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