Congratulations! You have begun my review of a book about a boy with a book. hahaha, sorry I just tried to start the review in a way similar to how the book begins. Perhaps I should add small text boxes with witty facts and sassy changes to history.
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
Sorcery for Beginners by Euphemia Whitmore with Matt Harry
Synopsis From The Book
Five-hundred years ago, sorcery began to fade from the world. As technology prevailed, combustion engines and computers replaced enchanted plows and spell books. Real magicians were hunted almost to extinction. Science became the primary system of belief, and the secrets of spell-casting were forgotten. That is … until now.
Sorcery for Beginners is no fantasy or fairy tale. Written by arcane arts preservationist and elite mage Euphemia Whitmore (along with her ordinary civilian aide Matt Harry), this book is a how-to manual for returning magic to an uninspired world. It’s also the story of Owen Macready, a seemingly average 13-year-old who finds himself drawn into a centuries-long war when he uses sorcery to take on a school bully. Owen’s spell casting attracts the attention of a ruthless millionaire and a secret society of anti-magic mercenaries, all of whom wish to use Sorcery for Beginners to alter the course of world history forever.
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
I got this book in my Unicorn Crate, that came with two books. It was Magic Lessons, and the concept of this book is interesting to me. It also seems like a book I may be rating lower, since it seems to be written for an age group much younger than I am (which comes with the territory of YA. That can be anything from 14 to older after all). What really gets me is the flip through of the book reveals excerpts from the Sorcery for Beginners handbook in the main character’s journey. The combination of story and textbook seems to be cool to me. Either way, here we go.
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
That was far more entertaining than I was worried it would be. There are little facts and excerpts that are like information dumps on facts and the likes that had me rolling in laughter. Also this book takes place in Vegas, which is where I grew up. It was nice to see it used.
Sorcery for Beginners is a novel about a boy’s journey to learn magic, but also in the form of a new text book. Essentially the book you are reading is the text book they now give out. In the text book it depicts the adventures of this boy as he is reading the original edition of the book you are reading. They — the author of the text book – figured the original version was too hard to understand so the new version is supposed to make more sense. Its an interesting concept, I’ll give it that.
Sorcery for Beginners begins with Owen, who has just moved to Henderson (a subset of the Las Vegas valley) after his mother and father separated. On his first day of school, he gets involved in some bullies that leads him to a bookstore where a woman named Mrs. Whitmore gives him a book entitled Sorcery for Beginners. Owen takes the book because of a spell within it that is supposed to reverse time, and he resolves to learn magic so he can use the spell — to put his family back together.
In the process of learning the spells, he gets help from a girl named Perry and her friends (who become his friends). During this first meeting, Owen uses the only spell he knows to hurt the bullies who are trying to hurt him. The bullies’ father threatens him and Owen resolves to learn more. They, Owen and his new friends, try to learn magic, fail, find a teacher named Alec. They start working and practicing and perfecting what they know with Alec’s help.
This is when the evil organization the Euclideans comes to try to take the book from Owen. The kids get kidnapped, and escape. Owen’s father gets framed for a robbery, and then the kids are chased. One girl, Trish, ends up in the hospital, and Owen tries to call Alec for help. Alec ends up turning Owen in to the Euclideans. The book is taken from Owen. Perry and Owen contact Mrs. Whitmore, and learn that their final exam is to get the book back. They gather up all their friends use a spell and stitch the book, that had been ripped apart by the Euclideans, back together.
Now the Euclideans wanted to use the book to control magic and ultimately destroy it, in some cases. Others wanted to use it for world control. In truth it seems as if this organization is more into studying magic from a science standpoint and using it as they wish and trying to destroy it in the end.
Owen and his friends successfully con the villains into believing Owen has destroyed his book and they win. This means they have successfully completed their final exams as beginners and can now help to save magic over the world.
What I Liked:
Magic; This magic system is a set of hand signs, body movements, intentions, and words. The words come from all different languages. The movements create runes and have a rhythm to them (sort of like a dance in some ways). I thought the way it was presented and shown was well thought out and well portrayed. I loved this part of it.
The characters; were kids and for what it’s worth they acted like it. I liked that they did and I’m proud of them.
Time line; This book takes place over at least a month, if not more. It is more than enough time for them to practice and to learn the magic. I like this.
The morals; of being patient and hard work paying off. I like how being focused is also really important too. Focused on the task at hand, and to keep your energy going towards it. It’s not even that you have to focus on it for a long time, it’s that you have to focus on it and it alone for at least a moment, and want it. The intention is very important, as are most things in life.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
The use of Las Vegas was nice, but the way they are traveling from Henderson to Fremont Street, and back, makes me fall out of the story. I know those distances. I know the highways. I think that since it is a place I know so well, I’m caught off guard and my tension fell a bit. I’d find myself thinking, “well they’re safe for at least twenty minutes.” when the book is moving quickly and trying to keep the tension up.
Time Taken To Read
” ‘ Holy ship,’ breathed Trish, but she did not say ship.” – pg 94
“SUN TZU (544-496 B.C.E.) was an ancient Chinese military general, strategist, and philosopher. The ideas he set forth in The Art of War are so profound, they are still studied today by soldiers, people of business, and those wishing to become prom queen.” – Sorcery for Beginners text box on pg 144
“Life ain’t the movies, mate. Heroes? Usually get killed right off. It’s the cowards who make it all the way to the end.” – Alec pg 298