The Magicians and Mrs. Quent
by Galen M. Beckett
Review by Gayle Surrette
Spectra Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780553589825
Date: 29 July 2008 List Price $23.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
The Lockwells have a home in a good neighborhood. They don't entertain or go out into society. Mr. Lockwell has, to put it kindly, slipped a gear and resides mostly in his attic study. Mrs. Lockwell struggles to keep up appearances for her daughters (Ivy, Rose, and Lily). Ivy Lockwell holds the family to a budget because she knows that her father's small monthly annuity will not keep them if they lose the house. Things are comfortable but lean when a chance meeting brings them into an acquaintance with Mr. Rafferdy and his friend. Expectations are raise that Ivy knows cannot be fulfilled and the disappointment to all could tear her family apart.
Galen Beckett has given us a rich world in The Magicians and Mrs. Quent. The length of night and day vary considerably and everyone consults the listing to see how long the days and nights are going to be. The atmosphere is mostly Victorian with its mores and rules for interactions between people and classes. The primeval forests have mostly been burned down and what's left is walled up to keep it in check. All in all, the world hangs together but since nothing is explained, the readers must figure out what's happening for themselves.
The lives of the Lockwells, Mr. Rafferdy, and Eldyn Garritt are three plot lines that thread in and out of each other with highwaymen, stodgy housekeepers, mean spirited relatives, ghosts, witches, politics, magicians, secret societies, mysterious visitors, and betrayal and misinformation. There's truly enough material to have made several books. The Magicians and Mrs Quent in many ways seems like two separate books. The entire first half is the background and lead in to the second half of the book. Neither alone would tell the tale. I was so entranced with this strange world that I kept reading and when the story finally began to unfold it just drew me along to the final act.
It's a story of character, courage, and honor more than rip-roaring adventure. The story pulls you into the world and then much later into the action. Luckily for the reader, the characters are interesting enough in their own right to keep the pages turning.
So, if you're looking for full-bore action, you'll not find it here. But if you're willing to give it a chance to entrance you, you'll find the story is one that will leave you, after the last page, with a feeling that justice, if not prevailing, at least took a whack at the evil of the world.