Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho, published 01 September 2015. The first book in the Sorcerer Royal series.
Set at the times of the Napoleonic Wars/Regency Period in England, magic is slowly disappearing and the Unnatural Philosophers (magicians/old white men) blame their new Sorcerer Royal. Zacharias, the Sorcerer to the Crown, is the son of Caribbean slaves who was adopted by the Wythes and followed in his adopted father’s footsteps when he became the first black Sorcerer Royal. Since anyone who is not a white male is inferior and can’t do magic properly it is because of Zacharias that Fairyland has cut Britain off the magic.
When we get to meet the female main character, Prunella, an orphan living in a school for witches, we see more sexism and racism. Women are inferior and hence high born magical girls have to attend schools for witches to get rid of their magic; servants, by the way, may do magic, since it’s handy around the house. Though Prunella, as the daughter of an Indian woman and an English gentleman, should never even attempt to use magic, she’s inferior not only by her sex, but also her race. You can guess where this is going.
Due to her heritage Prunella has magical abilities in abundance, she only needs to unlock her abilities and learn to control them. With the help of Zacharias and his adoptive mother, Prunella wants to learn magic properly and find a husband in London’s society. Not easy since everyone and their grandmother judge her by her sex and the colour of her skin.
The racism/sexism morale of the story was dealt ham-fistedly, it could have been woven into the story in a subtler way. The world-building had holes, in my opinion. I was looking for explanations as to why women shouldn’t do magic, other than they are the weaker sex; which is why I liked that Prunella stayed strong and insisted on learning. Lastly, the story dragged. This might be due to the writing style which emulates the style of the Regency era, but can’t quite pull it off.
2.5/5 Harpy Eagles