By T. Kingfisher

Rating: 4 stars

Rosa is the youngest of a family of magical artists. While bored, and wanting to help her family, she discovers a box that seems determined to keep her away. Obviously, this can’t stand so she works out how to get past the defences and open it. Hilarity mayhem ensues.

This is a lovely little YA story, the first half of which I found immensely frustrating, as Rosa hid what she’d done from her (loving) family and tried to resolve things on her own. It drives the plot and seems like the sort of thing a young person would do, but it’s not until things come out into the open and everyone starts working together that things start to work out. I’m sure there’s a lesson there…

Rosa’s family is sketched but they’re all lovely. Her parents were killed in a fire when she was young, but her grandmother, uncles, aunts and cousin are all delightful, with their own quirks to differentiate them. Uncle Alfonso’s kindness and joy in life especially stand out.

I loved the idea of these magical “illuminations”, that have to be so specific (to keep mice away, you can draw any sort of cat, but it has to have blue eyes) and are used in both big things, such as cleaning the water in the city’s canal, or tiny things, like stopping sparks spreading a fire and are all over the city.

It’s a delightful little story, quick and fun to read. It’s standalone, but has the same sort of feel as Minor Mage or A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking.

Book details

Publisher: Red Wombat Studio
Year of publication: 2022

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