Something Close to Magic

Atheneum. Jun. 2023. 384p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781665926911.
Gr 9 Up–Seventeen-year-old Aurelie has made peace with her life as a bakery apprentice where she’s overworked and underpaid. When adventure comes her way in the form of the mysterious and persistent bounty hunter, Iliana, Aurelie agrees to assist her using magic she thought she had left behind. When they start traveling, they soon add to their group Quad, a troll with uncommon magic, and Prince Hapless, second in line to the throne and joke of the royal family. Chapters are told from both Aurelie and Prince Hapless’s points of view, providing insights into their thoughts and glints of romance. Hapless longs to prove his worth by completing quests, meanwhile rumors swirl that Sylvain Copperend is the true heir to the throne and gaining followers. Members of the court all have nicknames following the Prince Charming name convention, with “aspirational naming” being common although not always accurate to the character. While magic has fallen out of favor, seen as unreliable, it is still practiced by many and seen as a course of study. This novel has in-depth character development with a fantasy world that comes alive as the story progresses. Main characters Aurelie and Hapless struggle with their connections to magic and who they want to be versus how they’re perceived. Characters are presumed white, and there is some LGBTQIA+ representation. Strongly recommended for Dungeon & Dragons enthusiasts.
VERDICT With a unique world, characters to root for, and a deftly written plot, this book is highly recommended.

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