by Stephanie Burgis
New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2010.
(first published in Britain under the title A Most Improper Magick)
Kat Stephenson is the daughter of a vicar and a witch, a fact that has left the family poor and just on the edge of good society, despite her Stepmama's wishes to the contrary. Her oldest sister, Elissa, is promised to be married to Sir Neville, a rich older man whose first wife died under mysterious circumstances. But Kat is determined to help Elissa out of this marriage, whether her sisters Elissa and Angeline want her help or not.
This story introduces a series that promises to be fun and inventive children's fantasy, set in or around the Victorian era in England. Kat is a fun and witty heroine to follow, if a bit precocious for a twelve-year-old: "I tried to raise just one eyebrow, like Angeline. They both came up together, so I had to settle for looking surprised instead of sardonic" (98). Unfortunately, the tale suffers just a bit from too much set up, with only tantalizing glimpses of what may be further explored in sequels. I'll be impatiently waiting to see if that is true.