Title: The Magic Thief
Author: Sarah Prineas
Conn got more than he bargained for when he tried to steal a wizard’s locus magicalicus, the stone that allows a wizard to work magic. But the botched theft leads to an apprenticeship with Neverly, a place where he’s warm and well-fed and learning about magic. Neverly came back to Wellmet to investigate a decline in the levels of magic, and before long Conn is wrapped up in the mystery as well.
Connwaer tells most of the story in his own voice, and his character shines through the narrative and the details, and most interestingly, what he chooses not to say. Here is someone that, despite living on the streets, still has enough self-confidence to turn down Neverly’s initial offer in order to get what he really wants. And he and Neverly play well off each other. Both of them are stubborn as well as smart, though Neverly is so wrapped up in his own momentum he fails to see a lot of what Conn picks up.
The journal interludes give the opportunity to peer into Neverly’s head, which helps since Conn’s story would be less engaging without a lot of the detail only Neverly can provide. And Neverly’s writings show his rationale behind actions that may otherwise seem cold and cruel.
I ended up liking Keeston a lot more than I thought I would, too. Conn’s rivalry with the older boy is tempered greatly by his insight into the true nature of Keeston’s character. And in the end Keeston isn’t reduced to a bully or a sneak, he’s a person.
Overall this is a strong story with engaging characters. I can’t quite buy that Conn is only twelve (he reads more like 16 to me), but that’s the only wrinkle in an otherwise excellent novel. I rate this book Recommended.