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Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

*Magyk: Septimus Heap, Book One* by Angie Sage, illustrated by Mark Zug - young readers book review

Also by Angie Sage:

Araminta Spookie 1: My Haunted House

Araminta Spookie 2: The Sword in the Grotto

Septimus Heap, Book 2: Flyte

Septimus Heap, Book 3: Physik



Magyk: Septimus Heap, Book One
by Angie Sage, illustrated by Mark Zug
Ages 9-12 608 pages HarperTrophy March 2006 Paperback    

A magical (or “Magykal,” as it’s spelled in Angie Sage’s book) world, about to fall to a dark lord, with only one boy able to save it… No, it’s not another Harry Potter book, though the similarities are a little striking. It’s Magyk, the first of the “Septimus Heap” books by Angie Sage. In Sage’s novel for young readers, Septimus is the seventh son of a seventh son, who legend holds will become a powerful wizard capable of defeating the Darke Magyk that threatens the land. Unfortunately, Septimus is captured at birth and his parents, Silas and Sarah Heap, are told he is dead. The same night, Silas discovers a newborn baby girl in the woods and brings her into the Heap household as their own child.

Ten years later, it comes to light that the infant girl, now named Jenna, is not just any girl: she is the daughter of the late Queen, next in line to inherit the throne. The Queenling, as she is called, is confused about her newfound identity, but she doesn’t have much time to think about it - the Darke magician DomDaniel has returned and wants to reclaim his place as ExtraOrdinary Wizard. The current ExtraOrdinary Wizard, Marcia Overstrand, knows she needs to get the Queenling out of the Heap household and into safety. With the help of Silas, Nicko Heap, the wolfhound Maxie, and an unwilling Young Army officer known only as Boy 412, Marcia and Jenna go on the run from the Darke Magyk and DomDaniel.

Though at first Magyk seems to be mirroring the more famous Harry Potter books, most of the story is very original and readers will soon forget about the other boy wizard. That is, they’ll forget about him until they reach two points in the book where Sage strangely uses two of the same names used in the Potter books. Jenna’s pet rock is named Petroc Trelawney (there is a Professor Trelawney in the Potter books) and a swamp creature is called a Boggart (the boggart in Harry Potter is a nightmarish shapeshifter). As Magyk was published years after the Potter books in which these names appear, it appears that either Sage used them on purpose or that she unwittingly did it because she was unaware of their occurrences in the Potter books. Two simple name changes would have cleared this up and made the book that more enjoyable. **

Aside from this, Magyk is a fast-moving and touching book with plenty of adventure, creatures, charms, spells and bad guys to keep both children and adults interested. Though you don’t get to know the characters as well as you do in the Potter books, there is more action, to keep you turning the pages. Charms and spells are capitalized and written in a different font, making it easier for youngsters to recognize them and also lending a magical quality to the book itself.

Whether they are fans of Harry Potter or not, young readers, young adults and adults should enjoy Magyk and be interested enough to follow the adventures of Septimus Heap and the other characters in Sage’s subsequent books. Let’s just hope that Sage refrains from utilizing any more Harry Potter names and confusing her readers further.

** EDITOR'S NOTE: British author Phil Knight notes that
The Petroc Trelawney in the Septimus Heap books is nothing at all to do with Professor Trelawney. He is a Radio 3 presenter who may well be known to Angie Sage personally, but otherwise will be known over the air. Think: why would Jenna call a pet rock 'Trelawney'? To a Radio 3 listener like me, it's perfectly logical... And as to Boggarts, they've been around here in the North of England for a long time. Manchester has Boggart Hole Clough, for example. They're not really like either Sage's or Rowling's creatures, but pre-exist either of them.
Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

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  Angela McQuay/2006 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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