(Book 1 of ‘At the House of the Magician Trilogy’)
Lucy dreams of being a maid in one of the houses of the gentry – anything to get her closer to the queen and further from her drunken father.
By an odd twist of fate, she finds employment at the house of Dr Dee, court magician and Consultant to Elizabeth I. Lucy is intrigued by the mysterious world of the doctor and his dark associate, Me Kelly. She can’t resist poking her nose in, especially if it means catching a glimpse of the Queen. But she learns more than she bargained for, and discovers a terrible secret that she must convey to Her Grace at all costs!
This first book in ‘The House of the Magician’ trilogy was a quick but very enjoyable read. A mix of historical and supernatural elements, the story is told through the eyes of servant girl Lucy who gives the reader a taste of Elizabethan life, from the courtly fashions and customs to simple mundane chores of the serving class.
The book begins when Lucy is forced to flee her home, needing to escape the clutches of her violent, alcoholic father. Now homeless and without a job, she decides to make her way to London but after a fateful meeting, Lucy finds herself as the new maid/nanny in the house of Dr Dee – court magician to Elizabeth I.
The gossip and rumours in the surrounding village claim that Dr Dee can raise spirits and communicate with the dead – however Lucy soon learns that the great Dr Dee’s powers are nothing more than artful trickery. Yet after aiding the doctor in one of his charades by playing the part of a nobleman’s recently deceased daughter, Lucy is soon fraught with sinister dreams. Dreams that all point to one thing – that someone is plotting to murder her grace, the Queen of England...
A quick and light read at only 228 pages, ‘At the house of the magician’ was a sweet and charming novel that gave a fictional insight to the possibilities of what it was like working for Dr John Dee. Also the writing was simple but decorative, with Mary Hooper adding in lots of detailed descriptions of Richmond Palace, as well as Elizabethan style dress and customs.
The characters were interesting, especially the portrayals of the famous historical figures whom were both accurately described and very believable. However the fictional cast were also very well written with plenty of memorable characters such as ‘Tom fool’ (both the man and the monkey) as well as the old cook/house keeper, Mistress Midge. I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing the return of these characters in the sequel ‘By royal command’.
Also I particularly liked the glossary at the end of the book, which also included amongst it Elizabethan recipes and instructions on how to make lavender wands – All of which I thought was a nice after touch to the book.
So overall I thought that the book a delightful read and would recommend to any fans of historical fiction! 3 stars!