Published by Chicken House Books.
Review by Miriam Atkinson.
From princes and pirates to airships and forbidden magic, The Boy Who Went Magic can only be described as a rip-roaring adventure that wonderfully balances actions scenes and perilous moments with heart-felt character-centric relationships and interactions.
The story follows Bert – an orphan boy and social outcast among his fellow classmates – as he inadvertently comes into contact with an ancient mirror which activates his seemingly uncontrollable magical abilities. In a land where magic was long ago outlawed, Bert must flee with the help of Finch – a mysterious girl with mechanical legs. Together they attempt to evade Prince Voss, who is determined that he alone should control the forbidden power.
The Boy Who Went Magic presents a strong theme of friendship and self-discovery. The plot is driven by Bert’s connections to his friends, namely Norton (Bert’s only friend at school), Finch and her father (who aids Bert against Voss). Even though Bert is thrown into the world of magic and scared along the way, he is still resolute in helping the people he meets. His friends in turn help Bert to understand where he comes from and what his connection to magic might mean for his future.
Although the story moves along at a relatively quick pace, nothing feels rushed. Every chapter serves a purpose in advancing the plot and nothing happens or is included without a reason. Although the book is not padded out with ‘filler’ chapters or sections that could be considered unnecessary, as a reader you are left wanting more. Perhaps in places the story could actually have slowed down; such as during Bert’s time travelling aboard the pirate airship. This would have allowed the reader to get a broader sense of his new life and provided more opportunities for interactions between Bert and Finch in none-life-or-death situations.
As yet there is no word as to whether A. P. Winter intends for The Boy Who Went Magic to be a stand-alone novel, or if any sequels are planned. The book does work as a stand-alone, with almost everything resolved. Renamed as a child when he was enrolled in the school, Bert’s original name is frustratingly never revealed – however, this omission could be interpreted as a representation of Bert focusing on his new life rather than lamenting his old one. If there ever were to be a sequel, as a reader, I would enjoy learning more about Ferenor – the ancient land of magic – before its destruction. Depicted as a mystical and mysterious place, it would be interesting to see the country at the height of its power compared to the shadowy land it has turned into.
The Boy Who Went Magic features an intriguing new fantasy world that combines magic with aeronautical pirate ships. Swords, guns, and bolts of arcane light; this really is an exciting adventure which places it characters at the heart of the story and leaves the reader wanting more and more.