The House on Durrow Street by Galen Beckett (2010)

November 28, 2010 at 8:41 pm (fantasy, LGBT)

This is a sequel to The Magicians and Mrs. Quent, and also seeks to replicate (with considerable success) the atmosphere and society of Regency-era Britain, only in a fantastical alternate world.

Beckett does not attempt to explain why this world has days (called lumenals) of varying length and no discernible seasons, which is probably just as well: accept it and move on.  After all, it also has wizards, witches, and hereditary illusionists, along with an imitation High Anglican Church and a Parliament – excuse me, a “Hall of Magnates.”   What’s a bizarre astronomy compared with that?

Quite a lot, actually, since the appearance of a “new” planet is very important in the plot of both books.  It’s been a very long time since it last appeared – so long that it’s almost been forgotten; and both the wizards and the state of Altania have in fact forgotten the important role that the witches played the last time it came by.

Okay, I’m sort of teasing; but the slow reveal of exactly what has been forgotten, and why it needs to be remembered, is one of the many interesting plot threads.  (It involves a lot of history; what’s not to like?)

The others involve Ivy Quent’s exploration of her father’s magic-riddled old house and her witchly abilities; Lord Rafferdy’s reluctant acceptance of something vaguely resembling adult responsibility and his abilities in magick; and Eldyn Garrit’s deeply affecting personal conflict between the life of an illusionist and the life of the Church.

Like the first book, this one ably sets up various situations that seem familiar to a long-time reader of fantasy – and then neatly proceeds to a somewhat different, but credible, conclusion than one would expect.   The series is certainly not to everyone’s taste (no-one would call it a rollicking adventure story!), but I consider it a valuable permanent addition to my library, and I look forward to The Master of Heathcrest Hall.

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2 Comments

  1. Kate said,

    Do you think E might like these? She’s really enjoyed the “Cecelia and Sorcery” books and Marisa Doyle’s two books, which she re-reads constantly. Furthermore, are they suitable for a 10-year-old?

    • diaryofatextaddict said,

      Hey Kate! I’m not familiar with Doyle, so the mention doesn’t help, I’m afraid. But no, I don’t think the books are suitable for a ten-year-old; they’re much slower-moving that Sorcery and Cecelia, and feature plot elements like finding one’s mother lying dead in the dining room, vicious secret police, a serial killer, con artists, legislative debates, implied death by starvation & thirst, and I think I didn’t mention that Eldyn is gay and (in the second book) in a fairly torrid relationship. All that aside, I feel it does such a good job at the showing-not-telling that a reader needs more familiarity with both history and the type of society depicted, in order to “get it,” than a ten-year-old is likely to have.

      But if you want to check, you can borrow the books!

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