A Question of Magic is written by E. D. Baker. It was published in 2013 by Bloomsbury.
“Serafina is living the normal life of a village girl when she gets a mysterious letter—her first letter ever—from a great-aunt she’s never heard of. Her great-aunt is a Baba Yaga, a person with magical abilities, who lives in an even more magical cottage.
Serafina’s life takes an amazing turn when she is summoned to the cottage to become the new Baba Yaga! But leaving behind her home, her family, and the boy she loves isn’t easy. As Serafinag rows into her incredible new role, she discovers that strangers can ask her one question and she must answer truthfully. It’s like a glimpse into a crystal ball…but telling the future doesn’t always mean knowing the right answers.”
I have a love/hate relationship with Baker’s works. I love the first two Tales of the Frog Princess books, but have problems with the next two. I love the first two Wide-Awake Princess books, but have problems with the third. I picked this book of Baker’s because it was a departure from those two universes. But my feelings ended up being mixed.
First, this is much more serious in tone than either the Frog Princess books or the Wide-Awake Princess books. By serious, I mean not as focused on humor or funny situations. There is actually a distinct lack of humor in this book that I found slightly disconcerting, after reading seven Baker books with humor as a main feature. I congratulate Baker for stepping away from her humorous writing to tackle something a bit less silly, but overall the lack of humor made the book feel really flat.
I don’t know whether it was the lack of humor or just Baker trying something different, but the writing was a mechanical type of “she sat down, she decided to go to sleep, she slept, she woke up in the morning” which made the whole book a little boring to read, honestly. I also thought that it was unnecessary for Baker to say “Serafina said in her Baba Yaga voice” every time she answered a question. The plot wasn’t all that impressive, I didn’t buy the romance, and all Serafina really did was just mope around and futilely look for blue rose tea. When Alex was describing his adventure at the end, I thought, “Wow, I wish I had read that instead!” The whole book was really rather odd, and slow, and such a difference from Baker’s other books that it seemed very un-Baker-like.
Recommended Age Range: 10+
Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Middle Grade
“No, I’m not going to let you in without announcing you. She’s in charge here, not you! Baba Yaga! There’s someone here to—Ow! Stop hitting me, old woman!”
Serafina peeked out the window to see an old woman rap the skull with her cane. The gate swung wide, even though Boris was gnashing his teeth at their visitor.
A Question of Magic was really disappointing. I think Baker writes better when she goes the silly/humorous route, and the more serious tone of this book just made everything seem a little boring and mechanical. I wasn’t invested in the plot, the romance, or Serafina’s character, and I found myself glad when the book was over.
You can buy this here: A Question of Magic