Title: Mairelon the Magician
Author: Patricia C. Wrede
What it's about: Kim, a London street waif, has just been offered a job. Her client wants her to break into the caravan of a performing magician and see if the man has a particular object. Kim agrees; after all, he's offering her five pounds, a fortune to someone like her. Kim gets more than she bargained for, however, when it turns out that the mark is actually a real magician. Instead of punishing Kim, however, the man, Mairelon, offers her a chance to come with him and be his assistant. With that, Kim's drawn into the mystery surrounding the theft of a set of magical objects.
What I thought: First off, the attention to detail in this story and its sequel is excellent. The language, the details, the locations all add flavor to the story, and the facts aren't fudged, either, as far as I could tell when I looked up various topics out of curiosity. Another note about the language: Ms. Wrede skillfully gives her characters different vocabularies and speech patterns to show class differences and different nationalities. Kim speaks with incorrect grammar, Hunch drops the aitches from the beginnings of some words, and Renee D'Auber has a very painstaking way of framing her sentences. You also gotta love the character. Mairelon and Kim are a good team, definitely. And the story itself? It's a good mix of humor, action, and mystery.
Overall: A great piece of historical fantasy. One of my favorite books.