Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Stolen Magic blog tour: The best things about magic in MG fiction by author Stephanie Burgis

As part of the Stolen Magic book blog tour, it’s an absolute pleasure to welcome Stephanie Burgis, author of Stolen Magic – the third book in the Kat Incorrigible series – to my blog today.

As a huge fan of fantasy, I’m always interested in the magical abilities and aspects of the characters and the world in which they live – whether or not it’s a YA novel or a book for younger readers. 

Luckily for me, when Stephanie sent through an e-mail, giving me the option to suggest a topic, magic was the first thing that came to my mind.

And of course, seeing that Stephanie’s novels are filled with all sorts of wondrously strange magic, she was only happy to oblige.

So, in today’s tour stop, she’s written about her favourite things about magic in middle-grade fiction. This post is one I’m so excited about featuring, because I agree with every single point she’s made about a subject that is so universally appealing to young and old readers alike.

Before I hand over the reins to Stephanie, here’s some brief information about Stolen Magic. 

About Stolen Magic

In this conclusion to the Regency-era fantasy trilogy Kirkus Reviews calls “enjoyable mayhem,” Kat is tasked with saving her family, the Order of the Guardians, and England itself.

With just days to go before her sister Angeline’s long-delayed wedding to Frederick Carlyle, the impetuous Kat Stephenson has resigned herself to good behavior. 

But Kat’s initiation into the magical Order of the Guardians is fast approaching, and trouble seems to follow her everywhere.

First, Kat must contend with the wretched Mrs. Carlyle’s attempts to humiliate her sister; the arrival of the mysterious Marquise de Valmont, who bears suspicious resemblance to Kat’s late mother; and Frederick’s bewitching cousin Jane, who has Charles Stephenson tripping over his feet.

But when a menacing boy with powerful magic starts hunting Kat, a dastardly villain tries to kill Angeline, and the Guardians face a magical robbery that could spell the end of their Order, propriety becomes the least of Kat’s concerns.

Can Kat save her sister’s life, the Order of the Guardians, and England itself before it’s too late?

Add Stolen Magic to your TBR.

You can also add Book 1 (Kat, Incorrigible) and Book 2 (Renegade Magic) to your Goodreads TBR pile.

And now, over to the lovely Stephanie.

My Top 5 Favorite Things about Magic in MG Fiction

1. The sense of wonder.

I really enjoy fantasy novels written for adults, but one common theme is that they’re often told from a jaded viewpoint: the urban PI who happens to be a vampire/a wizard and has already seen it all; the sorceress who’s been fighting a corrupt political system for years… Not so in MG fiction!

And as much as those darker novels can be deeply rewarding, exploring important truths about the world…

…well, honestly, it can be awfully fun to discover a magical world for the very first time without any intervening layers of cynicism to dim the view!

In general, I’ve found a lack of cynicism and an openness to wonder in most MG fantasy novels. The magic tends to feel truly magical, and readers get to feel the same “Wow!” reactions as the heroine or hero.

Readers fell in love with Harry Potter’s world just as Harry did, with open-mouthed wonder at all those magical delights. Even as the hidden shades of darkness underneath Harry’s wizarding world were revealed in later books, the series never lost a sense of fun about the pure magical possibility of it all.

The same is true for so many other MG fantasy novels I love, including Sarah Prineas’s The Magic Thief, Ysabeau Wilce’s Flora Segunda and more.

2. The sense of humor.

Of course not every MG fantasy novel is a comedy, but overall, there’s a joyful lightness to MG fantasy, and an irrepressible sense of fun to most of the MG fantasy novels I read, even when dark, serious elements are also incorporated.

One perfect example is Caitlen Rubino-Bradway’s wonderful Ordinary Magic.

There’s a lot of darkness in her magical world, there’s serious peril and bigotry against characters like the (fabulous) heroine - but oh, that book is just pure fun, delightful and funny despite all the serious issues at stake.

And oh, do I love sinking into a fun, funny novel of magical adventure!

3. The family ties.

MG fantasy novels can cover all sorts of topics, but exploring or cementing family ties - as the heroine either finds her place within her own family or creates a new family out of friends and mentors - is a recurring theme among a lot of MG fantasies I love.

While YA novels cover the years when teens are learning to grow up and separate (like it or not) from their birth-families to become independent adults, MG novels are mostly about kids still deeply enmeshed in their family lives - or else looking for new families to protect them and give them roots.

As someone who comes from a big, close family myself - and someone who’s busy building a new family of my own, with one young child and a new baby on the way - I am constantly fascinated by those family dynamics.

4. The Sense of Strength

MG-age kids, to be brutally honest, are among the most powerless people in society. Generally, we can hope that that’s a benign situation; they’re being looked after by responsible adults who nurture and protect them.

But the fact is, they have very little independence as compared to adults or even teens, and they’re told what to do in most areas of life.

In what can’t really be coincidence, one recurring theme that comes back again and again in MG fantasies is the theme of finding your own strength.

Abused and unloved Harry Potter turns out to be the great hope of his wizarding generation; orphaned and homeless Daine turns out to have powerful wild magic in Tamora Pierce’s Wild Magic.

Impoverished and previously-uneducated Miri, in Shannon Hale’s Princess Academy, is sneered at by her snobby new tutors…but turns the tables on them by using her new education to start a revolution in her own village.

In MG fantasy novels, young readers get to see other kids their age (or just a bit older) claim their own strength and achieve recognition from the community around them, no matter what obstacles stand in their way. It’s incredibly empowering.

5. The Sense of Hope

When I opened up this question - what are the best things about MG fantasy? - on Twitter, @keristars wrote something that really resonated with me:

“I like how ultimately *safe* it is, tbh. Scary things happen, but it's tempered. So it's more of a happy-reading-escape.”

When I read that, I thought: yes. This really is a big part of why I grab so eagerly for new MG fantasies off the shelf.

I never have to worry, when I pick one up, that I might be confronted with a plot of such constant, unremitting darkness that I finish the book feeling utterly miserable, thinking: What’s the point? Life just sucks.

Sad things happen in MG fantasies. There are powerful moments of sorrow and grief, and I’ve sobbed over some of them, heartbroken for the characters. But there’s always, invariably hope by the end - hope that yes, things can get better.

And really, in life, that sense of hope can be the most powerful magic of all.

Thank you so much for your awesome post Stephanie. It was so lovely having you stop by. 

More about Stephanie:

Stephanie Burgis was born in East Lansing, Michigan, but now lives in Wales with her husband, fellow writer Patrick Samphire, their son and their border collie, Maya.

She studied music history as a Fulbright Scholar in Vienna, Austria, earned a Master's degree at the University of Pittsburgh, and worked as a website editor for a British opera company before she began to write fulltime.

She has published almost thirty short stories for adults. Kat, Incorrigible (a.k.a. A Most Improper Magick, in the UK) is her first published novel, followed by Renegade Magic (a.k.a. A Tangle of Magicks, in the UK).

Where you can find her:
Website
Blog
Goodreads
Twitter

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