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Young adult fantasy from Iowa author

On a whim, I purchased a book on the “local authors” shelf in the juvenile/young adult section of the bookstore, The Magic Thief.

A few hours later, I had finished it. What a wonderful experience!

The book tells the story of a young “gutterboy” who has been surviving on the streets of Wellmeet as a pickpocket and a picker of locks. An easy mark passes him on the street, an old man with a cane. Reaching into his pocket, Conn retrieves a locus magicalicus from the wizard’s pocket. Unknown to him, it should have killed him in short order.

The grumpy, but well-meaning wizard finds Conn intriguing and feeds him and eventually adopts him first as a servant and later as apprentice. Nevery the wizard has returned from exile to determine why the city’s magic is draining away, which will eventually leave it uninhabitable.

The book is told in the first person (from Conn’s point of view) but is interspersed with short passages from the wizard’s personal journal. The journal often punctuates how Conn is perceived outside of himself, and often adds humor to the story.

Conn himself is an endearing character, striving to do his best, and never offering a lie to his master. The bad characters are very clearly bad, as is needed in a juvenile book, but there are a few surprises to be had.

A nice touch is a secret code language which the reader can use to decode short sentences added to the wizard’s journal by Conn (after Conn picks its lock). Simple letter transposition, but I thought it was fun. Also, make sure to read the biscuit recipe in the back — both versions.

Sarah Prineas, the author, is from Iowa City and has added a sequel called The Magic Thief: Lost. I can’t wait to read it.

Both books are available in kindle versions.

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