Book Review: The Magician’s Daughter by H.G. Parry

Book Review: The Magician’s Daughter by H.G. Parry

The Magician’s Daughter by H.G. Parry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received an advance digital copy of this novel from the publisher, Orbit/Redhook, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Magician’s Daughter is a book that excited me as soon as I saw the announcement. I love H.G. Parry. Her debut, The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep, is one of my favorite standalones of all time. It is a love letter to book lovers, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I have yet to finish reading her Shadow Histories, her incredibly well-researched (but dense) duology, but I was thrilled at the prospect of having another standalone from her. I didn’t love it quite as much as I hoped I would, as there was something about the plot and pacing that didn’t quite compel me to burn my way through the story, but The Magician’s Daughter was an absolute delight to read.

“Magic was perilous in ways that couldn’t be predicted. You never knew what you might fall into.”

Bridget, who goes by Biddy, has been raised on the magically hidden island of Hy-Brasil by a mage and his rabbit familiar. To say this is an odd upbringing would be an understatement, but Biddy knows she is loved. Perhaps more isolated than she would like, but definitely loved. However, when the council of mages catches up with Rowan, Biddy’s guardian, life on this secluded island off the coast of Ireland begins to fall apart. Magic is vanishing from the world, and the council believes that Rowan has information they need to find more of it. With Rowan in danger, Biddy endeavors to help Rowan find those answers, and maybe return magic back to the world, by leaving Hy-Brasil for the first time in her memory and visiting London, where answers to Rowan’s problems and to Biddy’s own origins might be found.

“Magic doesn’t give you credit for someone else’s sacrifice.”

There’s something about Parry’s storytelling that is incredibly cozy. Almost from page 1 I just wanted to cuddle into a big comfy chair with a soft blanket and a mug of hot chocolate and stay inside this story for ages. I was immediately taken by the odd found family in which Biddy finds herself with Rowan and Hutch. They’re without a doubt an unusual group, but the love between them all is palpable. While Biddy might have grown up without her parents, her life was never lacking love and the joy and freedom of discovery that love offered her. I also dearly loved the setting of Hy-Brasil, with its dilapidated castle and jam-packed library and abundance of black rabbits. It’s one of those fictional locales I would love to visit. Parry also did a great job portraying 1912 London when the story shifted settings, but I have to confess that I missed Hy-Brasil.

“She was a half-wild thing of ink and grass and sea breezes, raised by books and rabbit and fairy lore, and that was all she cared to be.”

The characters and setting were definitely the stars of the show here. Biddy, our main character, is sixteen when we meet her and is beginning to feel stifled by the island. She loves it, of course, but she is desperate to see something of the world. She is bookish by nature, as the only way she has ever left Hy-Brasil is through the pages of the books Rowan brings her, and that bookishness is what initially won me over. I love the above description of her. But she obviously grows and changes throughout the book and, while that growth was very well done and I respected the woman into which Biddy grew, I missed the bookish girl I first met. Rowan is one of those delightful fictional men who remind me Howl Pendragon, and I mean that in the best possible way. He bungles things often by rarely apologizes, covering mistakes with humor and bravado, or the more than occasional sulk. He’s proud and seemingly self-absorbed but, at his core, he is caring and good and would lay down his life in a heartbeat for those he loves. And then there’s Hutch. I’m a sucker for a good animal companion, and Hutch definitely fits the bill. He is nurturing and protective and fiercely loyal, whether in rabbit for or his far less common human one. He is a being of pure magic who is intrinsically bound to Rowan. I loved the bond between the two, and I loved how they always did their best to never make Biddy feel excluded from their relationship.

“Magic needed conviction. It asked for your whole heart, and promised nothing back.”

Have I mentioned how much I adore Parry’s craftsmanship? She was a beautiful way with words that had me reading certain sentences over and over again, just to admire all of their facets. You can also tell how very much books and stories matter to her, and that love shines through in her storytelling. It’s always a joy to read a story penned by someone who deeply values stories themselves, and that was definitely the case here.

“Death isn’t a habit you develop, you know, like tobacco or whiskey. It only takes once.”

The Magician’s Daughter is a beautiful, heartfelt historical fantasy that focuses on found family and what lies at the heart of magic. The writing and characters and setting all shown so brightly that the plot and pacing got a little lost in their glow. At least, such was the case for me. This is a book that I can foresee myself cuddling up with and rereading when I’m sick or sad or just need to escape to somewhere lovely, but where life isn’t as unbelievably easy as it is in some cozier fantasy that doesn’t deal in high stakes stories. The stakes are definitely high here. But the story is lovely just the same.

All quotations taken from uncorrected proof and are subject to change upon publication.

Expected publication date: February 28, 2023

You can purchase this book from: Blackwell’s | (Support independent bookstores!)Amazon US | Amazon UK | Audible | (Another way to support independent bookstores!) | Book Depository (Free shipping worldwide!)

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