The Magic Thief is written by Sarah Prineas. It was published in 2008 by HarperCollins. It is the first book in the Magic Thief series.
“Conn should have dropped dead the day he picked Nevery’s pocket and stole the wizard’s locus magicalicus, a stone used to focus magic and work spells. But for some reason he did not. Astonished and intrigued, Nevery agrees to take Conn on as his apprentice, on the condition that the boy find a locus stone of his own within a month.
But with his wizard lessons and helping Nevery discover who—or what—is stealing the city of Wellmet’s magic, time is running out of Conn to find his stone.”
The Magic Thief reminds me of a cross between Jinx and Septimus Heape, which means that it is awesome. It’s such a cute book (and yes, “cute” is high praise from me. I like cute) and I absolutely love the “Gruff Man Takes Young Boy/Girl In As Apprentice” trope, because it inevitably leads to FEELS and hearts melting and wonderful father/son-type relationships.
It’s hard to pull off, but the “newcomer stumbles across new/correct way of understanding things” is done really well here. Conn is unique and obviously magically talented, of course, so that trope is not surprising, but Prineas incorporates it in a charming way, and it’s more understated than usual probably because Conn himself is a bit understated in manner.
Also, when Conn makes biscuits and their consistency is “like an egg. Hard and crusty on the outside, soft and runny on the inside,” and then he thinks “Not bad!” and you can just feel his excitement…I just about died with laughter. That’s just one example of the sly humor that Prineas weaves into the text. Another is when Conn gets turned into a cat and then stalks and pounces on Nevery’s foot.
My one negative on this book is that I feel that the magic is a little too generic. I also think “locus magicalicus” is a really clumsy name. “Keystone” and “locus stone” are much better.
Recommended Age Range: 12+
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
My balance felt so sure; I couldn’t fall if I tried. I leaped around the room, testing. It was the tail! It kept me perfectly balanced at all times. What fun! I practiced prowling, making no sound. My black fur blended easily into the shadows at the edges of the room.
Oh, what a wonderful thief a cat would make!
I made another whirlwind tour of the room.
At the table, Nevery slammed down the book he had been reading. “Perish it, boy, can’t you keep still?”
I crouched down on my haunches and stalked his foot. Pounce!
The Magic Thief is an awesomely cute and funny story, and it has a recommendation by Diana Wynne Jones on the back cover so of course it’s good. I thought the magic elements were too generic, but Conn was a great protagonist and his relationship with Nevery is utterly heartwarming (and cute!).
You can buy this here: The Magic Thief