Author: Sylvia Izzo Hunter
Series: A Noctis Magicae Novel
Publication: Ace (September 2, 2014)
Description: In the hallowed halls of Oxford’s Merlin College, the most talented—and highest born—sons of the Kingdom of Britain are taught the intricacies of magickal theory. But what dazzles can also destroy, as Gray Marshall is about to discover…
Gray’s deep talent for magick has won him a place at Merlin College. But when he accompanies four fellow students on a mysterious midnight errand that ends in disaster and death, he is sent away in disgrace—and without a trace of his power. He must spend the summer under the watchful eye of his domineering professor, Appius Callender, working in the gardens of Callender’s country estate and hoping to recover his abilities. And it is there, toiling away on a summer afternoon, that he meets the professor’s daughter.
Even though she has no talent of her own, Sophie Callender longs to be educated in the lore of magick. Her father has kept her isolated at the estate and forbidden her interest; everyone knows that teaching arcane magickal theory to women is the height of impropriety. But against her father’s wishes, Sophie has studied his ancient volumes on the subject. And in the tall, stammering, yet oddly charming Gray, she finally finds someone who encourages her interest and awakens new ideas and feelings.
Sophie and Gray’s meeting touches off a series of events that begins to unravel secrets about each of them. And after the king’s closest advisor pays the professor a closed-door visit, they begin to wonder if what Gray witnessed in Oxford might be even more sinister than it seemed. They are determined to find out, no matter the cost…
My Thoughts: This fantasy set in an alternate history Britain has a romance and a treasonous plot. Gray Marshall is a poor scholar at Merlin College when he is embroiled in a plot set up by his pompous and conniving tutor Professor Appius Callender. Merlin College is a place where young men study magic. Gray is a gifted scholar and has the ability to turn into a large grey owl.
When things go wrong on the Professor's errand, Gray finds himself spelled and in a box room where he overhears the Professor and another man plotting to commit murder. He also finds himself accused of the death of one of the other young men sent on the errand. The Professor brings Gray to his estate in Breizh where he treats Gray like a servant. Gray does meet Callender's three daughters. Amelia is the oldest and is a brainless ninny who runs the household. Sophie is the middle daughter who has been sneaking around trying to teach herself magic by reading her father's books. The youngest daughter is fourteen-year-old Joanna.
When Gray finds Sophie trying to learn magic, he offers to teach her. A friendship is formed between the two of them as are the seeds of a romance. Although her father has insisted the neither she nor her sisters have any magic, Sophie can do things. After one explosion of temper, Sophie's magic breaks out. That and further information about the conspiracy to kill the king, forces Gray and Sophie to flee to try to find a way to protect the king. The Callender's housekeeper Mrs. Wallis and Joanna flee with them and Sophie learns a surprising secret about herself.
Despite Gray's estrangement from his family, he can depend and his sister Jenny who has married a noble from Breizh. Together with Gray's former tutor Master Alcuin, the group tries to find a way to save the king, uncover the plot and plotters, and keep Sophie safe from Professor Callender.
The story is exciting and engaging and the romance is well-done. I enjoyed this story very much.
Between them, haltingly and with many digressions, Gray and Sophie told their tale. Sophie's impressions of the battle (if such it could be called), and of their subsequent escape over the College walls, proved very different from Gray's own; it was startling to hear himself described as brave and quick-witted, when in fact he had been at all times clumsy, slow, and frightened out of his alleged wits.I bought this one for my Kindle. You can buy your copy here.