England’s magic is running out, and Zacharias Wythe, the Sorcerer Royal (and an entirely unpopular one to boot), doesn’t know how to fix the problem. Pressured by the magical community’s hostile threats to his position and growing interest and concern from England’s non-magical government, Zacharias travels to fairyland in a last-ditch attempt to solve the magic crisis and keep his rightful place as Sorcerer Royal.
But Zacharias is not prepared for what he discovers, nor is her prepared for the young serving woman, Prunella Gentleman, he stumbles upon in his journey who begs him to teach her magic in a world where magic is forbidden to young women. Returning to England with secrets and crucial questions about the nature of England’s draining magic, Zacharias must juggle his precarious position in addition to solving the magic crisis and keeping Prunella and her escapades from public knowledge – an impossible feat if there ever was one.
Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho was witty, hilarious, and captivating, and I loved every page! Often ridiculous but never boring, I devoured over half the book in one sitting (and stayed up much too late to finish it, which is always the mark of an excellent novel)! Prunella Gentleman made me laugh out loud at times, and I loved following her development through the story from a down and out orphan to powerful sorcerer. Zacharias Wythe was everything a well-brought-up, status-quo-challenging sorcerer should be, and his ability to keep his social graces in check even when presented with the most outrageous and shocking situations was charming and funny.
In addition to being quite a funny book, Sorcerer to the Crown tackles a few deeper issues as well, particularly issues of race and gender. Zacharias, saved from slavery as a child and brought up in English high society, faces discrimination and judgement from every direction for the color of his skin, despite his obvious talent for magic. Prunella Gentleman must struggle with her own magical talents in a world that teaches young women that their bodies and minds are much too frail for magic and forces them to stifle their abilities. I thought the book dealt with these issues very well, and they definitely felt important to the story and the development of the characters.
I thought the book’s writing style worked well for the setting and tone, and though I would have loved to learn more about the world of the novel and fairyland, I also realize that this is a series and one can't have all the mysteries entirely explained in book one! I'm greatly looking forward to the sequel and can't wait to find out what happens with Prunella and Zacharias!