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[personal profile] rushthatspeaks
I have liked Caroline Stevermer lo these many years, because she was kind enough to write a fantasy novel set at my (dearly loved) college, lightly disguised. That said, my favorite of her books is the spectacular When the King Comes Home, which gives you an entire novel's worth of beautifully accurate details about the life of a painter in a vaguely Italian Renaissance fantasy world and then takes your breath away when you see where all those details have been leading.

But I have never been terribly fond of the epistolary Regency-ish-with-magic romances she writes with Patricia Wrede, Sorcery and Cecelia and so on. They aren't bad, I find them cheery, but they don't stick in my head.

This little book is unusual because it's a singly-authored children's piece set into the timeline of that romance series, and can be read entirely independently of the others. I can't recall the last time I've seen a series do that, where there are the main ones, for adults, and then a related children's book over here somewhere...

Anyhow, Frederick, who is an orphan, gets a place as a servant in the household of a prominent wizard, and discovers that the curse an enemy put on his master several years ago has not, in fact, been adequately vanquished. You may handily extrapolate the rest. It is a completely competent read, with pleasant if typecast characters, a piece of folklore I did not quite expect to turn up handled well, and some good description of the evil thing. I finished it twenty minutes ago, and had to look up the main character's name; that should tell you. If you like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you like. For me it is the sort of thing that goes by neither unpleasantly nor too affectingly, rather like a familiar train ride-- the weather may change, and the houses out the window may have been renovated slightly since the last time I was in the area, but the same stations are there in the same order.

Honestly I would mostly recommend this either to Sorcery and Cecelia completists, or else to people who have reread Conrad's Fate by Diana Wynne Jones too recently to read it again and would like to read something of the same sort that is not actually as good or original but has all the same scenes about housework. I have no idea what a kid would think of it as I really can't extrapolate what I'd have thought of it as a kid-- it was simply not the sort of book I read back then. But it is certainly perfectly innocuous.

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