My Catchphrases

Monday, 8 August 2011

MG Monday: Review: A Most Improper Magick by Stephanie Burgis

Series: The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson
Author: Stephanie Burgis
Publisher: Templar
Publication Date: 1 Aug 2010

Synopsis: From Goodreads

Katherine Ann Stephenson has just discovered that she's inherited her mother's magical talents, and despite Stepmama's stern objections, she's determined to learn how to use them. But with her eldest sister Elissa's intended fiancé, the sinister Sir Neville, showing a dangerous interest in Kat's magical potential; her other sister, Angeline, wreaking romantic havoc with her own witchcraft; and a highwayman lurking in the forest, even Kat's reckless heroism will be tested to the upmost. If she can learn to control her new powers, will Kat be able to rescue her family and win her sisters their true love?


I will start by saying that this book makes me want to say things like ' spiffing' and 'jolly good show old chap' but hey that's just me [ : D ]

Set in Regency England and to give Stephanie Burgis credit she really does bring it to life with her vivid descriptive writing style.

Written in first person narrative from Kat's perspective. Kat, Katherine Stephenson, at 12, is the youngest member of her family; consisting of 2 older sisters, an older brother, the requisite 'wicked' stepmother and her downtrodden clergy father. I did have trouble reconciling Kat's age with the image I had of her in my head, in some ways she appears older yet some of her actions show how young she really is. She is feisty, impetuous and doesn't consider how her actions will affect others until it is too late. So roughly your typical tween then. Yet the underlying thing about Kat all the way through the book is how much she loves her family, above all else. There is absolutely nothing she wouldn't do for them for them even if her actions sometimes contradict this statement.

For me there was definitely an element of Pride and Prejudice to the story. Also if you have seen the movie Becoming Jane then you can possibly understand why I keep picturing Kat as a young Jane Austen with magical abilities. Whereas the rest of the family certainly bring to mind the myriad of characters depicted withing Austen's novels, therefore what I am trying to say is that Stephanie Burgis has captured and portrayed the era perfectly.

The social and economical status and the emphasis that society places on such things is delivered eloquently within the narrative. The constraints placed upon women in particular and the need to marry well in order to secure a brighter future for all members of the family must have been a real burden for any young woman to bear especially the oldest daughter. Stephanie Burgis does a marvellous job of bringing the sensibilities of Regency England to technicolour life.

The family history and their skeletons in the cupboard, if you will, are skillfully crafted into the story. There are peaks and troughs of action interspersed with world and character building, making for a steady pace throughout the book. there are even some real laugh out loud moments that I would not have expected.

For me, I cannot categorize this book at all, it just doesn't fit neatly into a box. I will have to try the speed dating technique in the library to find my target readership:

A vivid historical novel bringing Regency England to glorious life within the imagination. A feisty, impetuous yet loyal and loving heroine. Throw in the type of magic you dream of being able to do and you have a book that defies categorization.

How is that for a summary.


  1. Sounds like a pretty good read! Now I just need to work out which wishlist it fits on.. might have to be the general book list ;)

    Once Upon A Time

  2. I cant wait to read this one! :D Great review!!


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