Sunday, August 25, 2013

The House on Durrow Street

The title: The House on Durrow Street
The authors: Galen Beckett
Publication: Spectra, 2010
Got it from: Amazon b-day money 2012 (thanks sis!)

The House on Durrow Street is the sequel to The Magicians and Mrs. Quent (my review can be found here.)  There are some minor spoilers for the first book in my review below.

The narrative splits the three main characters and separates them for most of the 700-page novel.  Having married Mr. Quent in the last book, Ivy, her sisters and new husband take up residence at the Lockwells' old house on Durrow Street.  It is currently under renovations to restore it to its former glory, and the workmen uncover several secrets about the house, chief among them a set of doors which had formerly been walled up.  Some of the most interesting scenes in the book involve Ivy's investigations into the life of the house's original owner, Dratham, and his work as a magician.  Another key in the form of her father's journal is uncovered, which provides Ivy with more clues to the house's secrets as well as her father's younger years.  Meanwhile, Mr. Quent's work for the government sees the family rising in rank.  Ivy suddenly finds herself moving in more exalted circles and making friends with nobility.

While this is going on, Rafferdy is still in love with Ivy and trying (unsuccessfully) to get over losing her to Mr. Quent.  He finds some distraction in taking his father's place in parliament, which provides the reader with an insight into the political machinations of Altania.  Rafferdy also joins a secret magician's cult that is not as it seems.

And then we have Garritt, who has taken up a relationship with the illusionist Dercy and is supporting himself and his sister through his work as a church clerk.  Garritt slowly uncovers his talent for illusions while nursing a dream of entering the priesthood.  His ambitions are stymied by the fact that both illusionists and gay men are banned from the priesthood.

Once again I was drawn into the author's well-crafted world.  This is not by any means a page-turner.  It is meant to be read slowly and savoured like a twelve-course banquet.  The messages are subtle and the action is all character-driven.  Beckett is the master at dropping intriguing little hints at things but not quite following up with definite answers.  For instance, in a book Ivy reads, it's suggested that their world once had regular days like ours instead of days of varying length - will we discover that this novel actually takes place in the future?   There's also some suggestion that Altania was once a more matriarchal society, with women/witches having strong ties with the Wyrdwood.  In fact, I loved how focused this book was on the Wyrdwood, the ancient forests of Altania (and clearly a reference to the old forests of England).  I love the idea of the Wyrdwood having almost human-like sentience and the power to defeat enemies.  Basically I love trees and wish I could communicate with them like Ivy.  It seems way cooler than just being a regular old (male) magician.

There's so many little things in this book that I could talk about that I almost could have done chapter-by-chapter blogging.  However, I will leave it at this and say that if you enjoyed the first book, you will undoubtedly love this one.  Can't wait for number threee.

And speaking of which:

My predictions for The Master of Heathcrest Hall

Rafferdy will continue to wear awesome outfits and carry his vanity cane.

Sashie will jump off a cliff.  (Just kidding.  Although I wish that were true).

Mr. Quent is going to die.  This is unfortunate because I quite like him.  But I'm sorry, the man is toast.

Garritt will finally catch a break.

The man in the Black Mask will turn out to be Dratham.

The people of Altania will stop fighting, band together, and defeat the Ashen with the help of the Wyrdwood.

Ivy and Rafferdy will finally resolve their unresolved sexual tension.

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