Friday, March 27, 2015

Book Review Stephanie Burgis's Courting Magic

Courting Magic by Stephanie Burgis
Published by: Five Fathoms Press
Publication Date: August 10th, 2014
Format: Kindle, 105 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

Kat has fought countless magical battles but she has never had to face the horror of making her debut in society. Her sisters have taken her coming out in hand and have the top modiste creating Kat's wardrobe, much to Kat's chagrin; there are too many pins! But her first ball is looking like it just might be interesting. There is a thief making a swath through the ton by impersonating famous personages and making off with jewels and other valuables. It is a magical crisis that is to be stopped. In order to hide the investigation Kat and three other male magicians will go to the ball with the three men paying court to Kat and posing as eligible husbands. Problem is Kat would actually really like one of them to be her husband. Alexander, the by-blow of the last head of her Order, awoken her heart years ago and she has found that despite their very different statuses in the world that he just might be her true love. But can love overcome society's strictures? Well, Kat's never played by society's rules anyway!

Do you ever finish a series and think, I wonder what the characters will be like in the future? What will they be like in five or ten or twenty years? Rarely in literature are we given this luxury to pop into their future lives just for a quick glimpse after the book or series of books ends. If it does happen at all it's usually squeezed into an afterword that is more frustrating then illuminating. This is why I think television shows sometimes do the gimmicky "what happened to all of our characters in the years to come" flash forwards in the last five minutes of their series finale, human's insatiable need to have closure. Rarely are these quick impressions satisfying. There is no development, no time to have one last adventure, just an addendum thrown to us as a bone. That is why I am so grateful for Courting Magic. When the Kat, Incorrigible series ended we got a tiny glimpse of what Kat's HEA might be, but being only thirteen, well, she wasn't ready to be out in society let alone be married. Yet there was a wistfulness and a longing that just maybe we could one day find out about Kat's own HEA.

Skip forward two years and Stephanie is giving fans what they hoped for. The problem with Courting Magic is that it doesn't fit neatly into the series, it's short, and I don't think it could even be considered middle grade, being more romantic and definitely the most Austenesque of all Kat's adventures. But that's what I love about the age in publishing we live in. Sure, we can complain all we want about the rise of the e-reader and the downfall of printed books, but before this era would Kat's story have been given closure? NO! It couldn't be published traditionally, for the aforementioned reasons, and how else could we have gotten it? Bless authors willing to embrace new mediums in order to tell the story the way they want to. I'm not going to go on a rant about technology here, I just really want to point out that sometimes technology is there for a reason and helps us, here we got closure.

While this whole series has been about love, familial love, and of course the marriages of Angeline and Elissa, Kat being younger and our protagonist, we didn't get the swoon worthy love that Austen was known for. Kat's story here is more typical Austen, coming out in society, a ball, and a proposal. Throw in some stumbling blocks, aka Alexander's status in society, and it's a very typical Regency love story. Kat is anything but typical. So of course, throw in magic, a sweet and hilarious reunion with the magically tainted Cousin Lucy, a cringe worthy run in with the Prince Regent, a couple of awkward dances, a thief worthy of the Pink Panther movies, and the bad guys being caught and you get the perfect blend of Austen and Kat. Not to mention a last minute reversal of fortune and Kat has her ideal HEA!

But what I wholeheartedly embrace is that Kat's HEA is anything but typical, in true Kat fashion. Firstly, she ends up with someone who has the same career path as she does, saving England by using magic. This means that Kat doesn't have to ever hide who she is let alone have to choose between her duty and her heart; that would destroy Kat and we can't have that. Secondly it's her true love! And no, she didn't double check with her mother's spell, she just knows. The moment she first met Alexander it was fate, but having them reconnect years later, sigh, it's almost as satisfying as when Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth finally get their HEA! But the clincher for me was that in her enthusiasm to finally end up with Alexander Kat inadvertently was the one to propose. She always has been a mold breaker, and I'm happy to read that a few years down the line that that hasn't changed.


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