Renegade Magic (The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson, #2)
by Stephanie Burgis
Kat Stephenson is back to cause more chaos! Stepmama drags the family to Bath to find Kat’s sister a new suitor. But, unknown to most of its gossipy visitors, Bath is full of wild magic. When Kat uncovers a plot to harness this magic in the Roman Baths, she finds her brother Charles is unwittingly involved. Kat must risk her newfound magical powers as she defies the Order of the Guardians to foil the plot and clear her brother’s name. (goodreads.com)
It’s no secret that I loved the first book in this series, Kat, Incorrigible so I was ever so excited for the release of this sequel. While Renegade Magic was entertaining, I was slightly disappointed in it in comparison to the first book. Much of my disappointment wasn’t because of the writing but because the story followed some plot points that never, ever sit well with me. I truly dislike stories where no one believes the main character when she tells them what’s going on. Especially when this main character has proven to not be as incorrect about things as everyone thought they were originally. Now, I know Kat has a reputation for being unladylike and even willful, but I feel like with the growth of her character in the first book that she should have been slightly more trustworthy in the second.
Just when I was about to give up on the book that particular aspect of the story turned around and I think I was misled (as other characters were) about what I thought was going on. This turning point actually saved the book for me because up until then I was really angry with how things were going and how little people were trusting Kat and it was almost ruining the story for me! Stephanie Burgis is one sneaky author if she managed to pull off exactly what I think was pulled off.
Well played, Burgis, well played. 😉
Bonus points for turning the story around exactly at the point I was ready to put the book down. In fact the thought went through my head and then I turned a page and, BAM! The book redeemed itself. Awesome timing.
One other thing that bothers me in stories, which happened in this one (and has recently been put into words by many people who have written about the new Pixar movie, Brave) is when men are written as complete buffoons when you have a strong female character. I am tired of the kind, but clueless father figure in books. Kat’s lazy, always sleeping brother, Charles also angered me. I was waiting for both of these characters to step up and suddenly redeem themselves during the story, but alas, they are just what they are – useless. More characters of men than actual real people. I wonder if I was supposed to find these two characters amusing or comic relief? I didn’t. I couldn’t stand to read about Charles one bit! Even though my wish from the first book – to read more about the brother – came true. I sort of wished I’d taken it back. The guy is a loser!
Having the 12-year old be the most competent, intelligent character in a middle-grade book is one of my pet peeves about MG novels, if I were to be honest. I tend to like stories best when the young person asks for help, or at least doesn’t have two totally useless parents or older siblings. I can totally see how this book, from a 12-year old’s perspective would be more or less accurate though. I mean, every 12-year old tends to think their parents are useless and older people just don’t know what the heck is going on. I do know that this sort of plot device was something that even bugged me WHEN I was in my “middle grade” years. I know I’m in the minority there, but even I liked to have the help of my parents when I was battling The Unknown as a child. (My Unknown was a lot less magical and more Real Life Problems though. Alas.
Regardless of my two pet peeves being very obvious in the story, I didn’t hate it. I realize this might sound really negative, but I promise it’s not! I still adore Kat and I loved the writing and dialogue and even the whole magical mystery. The new character Lucy even grew on me as the story progressed. I just needed to explain why I wasn’t as enchanted with the sequel as I was with the first. I was happy after reading Kat, Incorrigible and a little more cranky when I finished Renegade Magic, but only because the latter made me THINK more about things (i.e. why is Kat the only competent character? ARGH!).
And of course, I am completely excited for the next book, Stolen Magic which comes out in April of next year. Once I do leave the world that Kat Stephenson lives in, I find it difficult to get back into the real, present world that I, Cat Healy live in. I would have been much happier if Stolen Magic was publishing, say, this month. Heh. Now that Kat is going to have Guardian training, I want to know what other sort of magic she ends up with!
Just, please… make Charles a little more useful and less of a ninny. Hopefully he’s learned a bit of a lesson after what he went through in this book. 😉
The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson