Tuesday 23 August 2022

An Unkindness of Magicians

Finished August 15
An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard

I really enjoyed Kat Howard's Roses and Rot, and was eager to read this one. The opening scene of a magician performing an impressive bit of magic sets the scene and we gradually learn of the circumstances of this performance and the magician community that lives and operates in New York City. They call it the Unseen World and try to be as invisible as possible to the regular citizens of the city. 
The magician at the beginning is a woman named Sydney, and she has great powers, has come from a dark part of their world, and has strong feelings about the system that put her in the life she has lived until now. 
Sydney's story is gradually revealed, as are the stories of other magicians that she comes into contact with. For a few decades a system has been in place of pooling magic, but it has required sacrifices from all of the families part of the Unseen World and the dark nature of this has influenced many of them. Each House has its family, and the House itself has a consciousness and a power. Every once in a while there is a Turning where a House has made a challenge to take the place at the head of the community. One has been announced, and Sydney has answered an ad to be a champion for one of the Houses. In her case it is a new House, from a magician who has come from outside the Unseen World, but has been around for a few years. As the challenges escalate from proofs of magical ability to fights to the death, Sydney puts in place her own secret plan, one that will change the Unseen World completely. 
Sydney is a very interesting character, as is Laurent, the magician she becomes contracted to. The other champions have secrets, as do many of the heads of the Houses. Some of these are more evil than others, but all have consequences. 
I like the world that Howard has created here, and the depth of many of the key characters, which are complex and interesting. I'd love to see more of this world, but also of any others that she creates. 

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