The House on Durrow Street
by Galen Beckett
Cover Artist: Phil Heffernan
Review by Colleen Cahill
Spectra Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780553807592
Date: 28 September 2010 List Price $16.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
The mix of magic and proper society is one I find quite fascinating in a book, so I was delighted when Galen Beckett’s The House on Durrow Street fell into my hands. Book two of the continuing adventures of Ivy Quent, Dashton Rafferdy and Eldyn Garritt, this trio again uncover the secrets of magic and illusion, while also making choices that will affect their place in society and their world. As a dark otherworld force draws nearer, its evil is becoming apparent to all.
Ivy is in a very difference place than she was in the first book; married to Alasdare Quent, she and her sisters now have money for carriages and clothing, not to mention the renovation of their father’s house on Durrow Street. When Mr. Quent becomes Sir Quent, plans for the home become even grander, although it is still a strange place, with carved watching eyes and two doors to nowhere. Now Ivy and her sisters begin to move in a higher social circle, but this comes with a price, as there is more social pressure on Ivy and she sorely misses the company of Rafferdy, who is avoiding her because he is still regretting his lack of courage when he wanted to marry Ivy himself.
Life is not easy for Rafferdy, as before “the only campaign that mattered to him was the constant struggle against banality and boredom”, but due to his father’s rapidly declining health, he now faces the tedium of taking a seat in the Assembly. It proves less mind-numbing than he anticipated, as Rafferdy stumbles into a dead body his first day there, a body with one of the most dangerous agents of the King standing over it, Lady Shayde. This is an eye Rafferdy would rather not draw, but somehow he keeps stumbling into the White Lady. Perhaps the only bright spot of his new political career is Rafferdy has found a group of young gentleman who introduce him to a magic society, one that will teach him to use his powers.
Certainly Rafferdy needs some new acquaintances, as Garritt is not around much. Between his new job as clerk in Graychurch and spending his free time in the Theater of the Moon, Garritt is a busy soul. Indeed, things are looking up for this young man; he has a good job and even has hopes of fulfilling a childhood dream of becoming a priest. Even Garritt’s sister is showing great interest in the Church, spending her days there and wearing only gray dresses, which is quite a change from her previous demands for finery and fun. Garritt is feeling the pull of two opposing desires, however, for while he has little talent as an illusionist, he is drawn to it and especially to the handsome illusionist Dercy, who definitely returns the feelings. This is totally against Church teachings, but that does not stop Garritt’s desire. Things become even tenser when several illusionists are murdered; proper society might not care much, but Garritt and his friends are very alarmed.
For those who have read The Magicians and Mrs. Quent (which is a necessity to follow this book), Beckett has done a splendid job continuing this world and expanding on some of its unusual points. There is more information on Wyrdwood, the nature of the approaching threat, and the astronomy of this universe. There are still some of the light hearted touches of the first book, but the growing threat to Atlania and the entire human race make this a darker work, but a very interesting one. Even things like the title have twists, as there are two houses on Durrow Street that could be center of this theme, but at very different ends of the pole, both geographically and socially. I highly recommend The House on Durrow Street as a splendid fantasy that is both magical and very proper.