Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publication date: 28 July 2016
Genre: Historical fantasy
Page count: 384 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
This is a spoiler-free review.
Sorcerer to the Crown is a book that has been on my radar for years, but I never picked up for whatever reason. After meeting Zen at the MCM Comic Con Blogger Brunch and being totally charmed by her, I decided to pick up the audiobook. I’m so glad I did! Sorcerer to the Crown is the perfectly whimsical historical fantasy for a rainy day.
Magic and mayhem collide with the British elite in this whimsical and sparkling debut.
At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, eminently proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers—one of the most respected organizations throughout all of Britain—ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up.
But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…
I think this book is one that divides readers, and I can definitely see why. The dialogue makes it feel almost like it’s a casual Austen-esque story with no real stakes, when in reality there’s destructive magic abound and everyone is in mortal peril. In many ways it feels like the characters are too wrapped up in society and social rules to really understand the situations they find themselves in. I think readers will either delight in the absurdity of this, like I did, or they will tear their hair out in frustration.
The best example of this is Zacharias. He is a black man adopted and raised as a gentleman by the Sorcerer Royal. In this world, magic is reserved for men — women are encouraged to actively suppress their power — but specifically for white gentlemen. Zacharias is in a tight spot, having inherited the role of Sorcerer Royal and the most powerful role for a sorcerer in England, with constant threats against his life and racist language and sentiments used against him. However, he seems to just get on with it and doesn’t necessarily address it, something that I felt fit the story but I don’t think will satisfy some readers.
I really enjoyed the characters in this book, however everyone pales in comparison to Prunella. I fully expected Zacharius to be the main character of the book, and I suppose he sort of is, but he absolutely takes a backseat to Prunella. She’s fierce, outspoken, and everything that a woman isn’t supposed to be at this time — she leaps off the page in a way that no other characters does. I feel that if the story wasn’t so whimsical and fun, I might not have liked her as much as I did, but she suited the tale perfectly. My only wish is that Zacharius had a little more oomph behind his character to make him feel like he was on the same level as Prunella.
I really enjoyed Sorcerer to the Crown — it is the perfect book to curl up with on a cold, rainy day. Cho sinks you into the world so perfectly and the story comes to life. I cannot wait to read The True Queen!
Want to try Sorcerer to the Crown for yourself? You can find it here (affiliate links):