Title: Magic Steps
Author: Tamora Pierce
Series: The Circle Opens #1
Sandry is alone again. This time the circumstances are a little different—Briar, Tris, and Daja have all gone on long journeys with their teachers to various countries. But Sandry remains at home, caring for her uncle, who recently had a heart attack. Then Sandry spots a boy dancing magic, and because she discovered him, she has to teach him. Life complicates even more when a trade war turns deadly, and the killers are using a form of magic no one can detect . . .
This book opens a new quartet about Sandry, Daja, Tris, and Briar, but unlike before each book has a chance to showcase each one individually, as the other three are in different countries.
It’s nice to see how much Sandry has grown. She (and the rest) are now accredited mages at 14, which is such an accomplishment that Sandry doesn’t usually tell anyone. It does mean, though, that when she spots magic in Pasco’s dancing, she ends up as his teacher.
This gives a lot of depth to the story. Sandry is both trying to solve a string of murders as well as manage an apprentice mage who is easily as stubborn as she is. Just convincing him he HAS magic is a job and a half. She’s now stepping out as an adult into a new world of responsibilities, and finding her own place in the world.
I like that the magical abilities are continuing to branch out. From the dance-magic to a weird unmagic, the powers continue to surprise. And the characters are also solid.
Overall this quartet improves on the strong points of the previous. Unlike those, however, it is less required to read all the books in order, as each one more or less stands alone. I rate this book Recommended.