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Long ago bright, luminous magic poured freely through schisms around the world, in the shadows mages roamed in their numbers secretly bringing miracles to those who most needed it. Yet in 1912 magic has all but disappeared, schisms have closed and new ones have become rare to find, the world has become a darker place. However for one sixteen year old girl, magic is all she has ever known. Biddy lives on the mythical island of Hy-Brasil, just off the coast of Ireland. This is the last place where wild magic runs freely, an isolated place hidden to the outside world, where only Biddy, a mysterious magician called Rowan and his rabbit familiar Hutchincroft, live. Biddy was shipwrecked on the island when she was a year old and ever since Rowan and Hutchincroft have been her guardians, her friends, her family. It is the only place Biddy has ever known as for her own protection she isn’t supposed to leave. As her seventeenth birthday approaches Biddy longs for more, she longs to see the outside world that she’s only read about in books, the world where she sees Rowan transform into a raven and fly towards every night, always returning by dawn. Though one night Rowan doesn’t return and his absence sets off a chain of events which lead Biddy away from the safety of Hy-Brasil and onto the murky streets of London, where a powerful mage is hunting them. Biddy begins to regret ever wishing to leave, but she knows magic must be restored, Hy-Brasil must be protected, and she must gather all her courage to save all that she loves.


The Magician’s Daughter by H.G. Parry beautifully captures a classic fairytale-esque tale, filled with whimsy, magic and bittersweet longings. This is a historical fantasy which will delight cosy fantasy lovers who want a nostalgic read, one that will once again make them believe in magic.


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

She didn’t know now when that had changed—it had done so gradually, one question at a time wearing away at her like the relentless drops of rain on the ruins by the cliffs.”


At the heart of this novel is a coming of age exploration as we journey with our young protagonist Biddy on the cusp of adulthood. Biddy may be sixteen but as a consequence of being sheltered her whole life, she is understandably a rather young sixteen year old. She is dreamy, strong willed, perhaps naïve and a touch sulky but without being obnoxious. Biddy is gentle, kind, caring and worries about a lot of things. She is just the kind of young female protagonist I personally enjoy encountering and it was comforting to find a character who mirrored my own struggles with anxiety. Sometimes there is a desperate need for change, to step out of your comfort zone and take a leap into the unknown, and whilst that can be exciting there also comes an overwhelming sense of fear. Yet when Biddy does step outside the safety net of Hy-Brasil she finally experiences a sense of wonderment, she sees places she has only ever imagined before and she meets people who have lived much harder lives. Though her courage often falters at every turn she pushes herself to be braver.


Parry poignantly captures that moment in adolescence where you are caught between longing for the safety of your childhood, where through your young eyes your parents or guardians were perfect, strong and healthy and held all the answers, to the realisation they too are in fact people who make mistakes, who have weaknesses, who are fundamentally flawed. As Biddy learns more about her past and more about the secrets Rowan has kept from her, she begins to see him and the world around her in a new light. Despite her growing misgivings towards Rowan, they do make such a wholesome found family, which was one of my favourite aspects of this book. Rowan and Hutchincroft try their hardest to protect Biddy at all costs, she is precious to them and in one way or another they all make sacrifices for each other.


“She wanted Rowan to come in and laugh at her for having been so worried; she wanted Hutchincroft to leap into her arms and nestle his lithe, soft body against her chest. She wanted things to be back the way they had always been. But that wasn’t offered.”


I love the way The Magician’s Daughter echoes many characters and elements from classic literature, setting a wonderful classic tone and atmosphere throughout. Biddy is much like Sarah Crewe from A Little Princess, the world beyond Hy-Brasil is Dickensian, and Rowan is much akin to the wizard Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle. Parry then further extends these comparisons when Biddy travels to London and comes across things for the first time she recalls how she has read about them in her beloved books. For example the workhouses in Oliver Twist, and the trains from The Railway Children. The sights she had once only been able to imagine now become reality and she grows to discover just how different they are. 


The-Magicians-Daughter.jpeg?resize=250%2I have spent the majority of this review discussing Biddy as the story is centered on her journey, though she is not the only character who Parry fleshes out well. Many of these characters are hard to define as wholly heroes or villains as there is much ambiguity throughout. Rowan is someone who cares deeply and as a result he keeps secrets and makes wrong choices with the best of intentions, then there are those such as Storm and Morgraine, Rowan’s former mage companions, who just make bad decisions for their own personal gain, not really considering the bigger picture. Then there is the more clear-cut villain, Vaughan, who I found well depicted too. He is the type of character who believes magic is a monopoly he can use to secure his own sense of power and superiority, that he has the right to take ownership of magic, that he is just that privileged, makes him perfect to despise. A significant part of Parry’s worldbuilding is the notion that magic should run free, that it should be guarded but not hoarded. In this world magic is inherently good, it is when people use it to hurt or control others that it becomes bad. This is lavishly illustrated using Irish mythology, as we see the beauty and serenity of Hy-Brasil, the trickster-ish ways of the Púca and the rich history of the Tuatha Dé Danann who Biddy learns much from. I, of course, also loved the inclusion of animal familiars as Hutchincroft was the absolute best.


Though this is a cosy read for the most part, there are certain characters’ lives that are at stake and many times I found myself stressed and anxiously eager to discover their fate. That is the sign of a great author though, one who has made me deeply attached to their characters. So whilst the story revels in whimsy and charm, by the end I felt it was bittersweet. There was happiness and much hope but also sadness at everything that had changed.


The Magician’s Daughter is simply a magical joy to read and so achingly beautiful.


 “Rowan stood with his hand pressed to the oak and his eyes closed, and magic spilled from its trunk and thrummed under his skin. It didn’t matter that Biddy couldn’t see magic herself. She could see it the way she saw the wind—the ripples it created, the movement it stirred in the trees and the air. He breathed in, slowly, deeply, and the forest breathed and flexed with him. When his eyes flew open, they glittered in a flash of green and gold.”


ARC provided by Nazia at Orbit in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for the copy!


The Magician’s Daughter is out now


The post THE MAGICIAN’S DAUGHTER by H. G. Parry (BOOK REVIEW) appeared first on The Fantasy Hive.

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