After so thoroughly enjoying The Dragon With A Chocolate Heart, I thought I’d pick up some more of Stephanie Burgis’ work. A Most Improper Magick, also published as Kat, Incorrigible, is a really lovely middle-grade Regency romp that is perfect for fans of feisty heroines and lovers of Austen.
Book: A Most Improper Magic by Stephanie Burgis
Read before: No
Ownership: Hard copy, Amazon
This book is very much in the vein of Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist books and Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer’s Sorcery and Cecelia, but pitched for a younger audience. The Regency world still revolves around balls, marriages, gossip and house parties, but magic exists on the fringes, even if, in this instance, it is not quite respectable. The MG audience means that Kat, the heroine, is much less focused on romance for herself, which allows for a freedom from the usual tropes of this genre, and a freshness in Kat’s voice.
I loved every single character in this. Kat is a fantastically resourceful, fun and cheerful heroine, who deserves to sit alongside the great feisty heroines of kids literature. She’s instantly lovable when we meet her. sneaking away from home to save her sisters from arranged marriages. I loved Angeline and Elissa, who are as loving and as exasperating as any real-life siblings. The various suitors of the elder sisters are very funny. Even the bad guys are thoroughly engaging, though I won’t spoil who they end up being!
The beginning of the book is a little more slowly paced – the Regency spirit is stronger as we meet Kat’s family, with a lot of discussions and character work. I loved this, but I am admittedly a fan of the genre. Once Kat discovers her magic, the book speeds up into a really rollicking story, with spells, intrigue, kidnapping, highwaymen and midnight gallops. I loved the madcap spirit Kat has, and the writing echoes this beautifully, effortlessly dragging you along with her so you can’t help but grin as you flip pages faster and faster. The ending is very satisfying, and could certainly be read as a standalone, but I’m glad there are more in the series!
Five out of five cats!