Author: Sarah Prineas
Publisher: Harper Collins
Themes: Adventure, Belonging, Magic
Age Range: 3rd-6th Grade
Summary: (from Goodreads)
In a city that runs on a dwindling supply of magic, a young boy is drawn into a life of wizardry and adventure. Conn should have dropped dead the day he picked Nevery's pocket and touched the wizard's locus magicalicus, a stone used to focus magic and work spells. But for some reason he did not. Nevery finds that interesting, and he takes Conn as his apprentice on the provision that the boy find a locus stone of his own. But Conn has little time to search for his stone between wizard lessons and helping Nevery discover who or what is stealing the city of Wellmet's magic
Being the fantasy lover that I am, I fully expected to enjoy this book, and I was not disappointed. In the magical city of Wellmet, where you live determines almost everything about you. People who live in the Twilight are destined to be poor and live their lives scrambling to survive. Citizens of Sunrise are the wealthy and privileged of the city. Conn, the main character, is from the Twilight area of the city, making his living by picking locks and pockets. An orphan, Conn is very skilled at taking care of himself-until he meets the wizard Nevery. Suddenly he is thrown into situations that his life has not prepared him for-a wizard's apprentice, in school, meeting the most powerful people in the city. In Conn, Prineas has created a character of incredibly honesty and heart. Once he realizes that the magic is in danger, he thinks nothing of his own safety. And while he does not always tell the whole truth, he never tells a lie, even when it would be expedient to do so.
There is only a small amount of backstory given for the way that magic and the city are connected, but it is enough that the reader can fully appreciate the plot without feeling like there are holes in reason or logic. Even fantasy novels have their own internal rules, and the world that Prineas has created is at once familiar and new, and she takes old ideas about magic from other fantasy writers and makes them her own. As seems to be the norm these days, especially with fantasy and science fiction novels, this is the beginning of a series, of which there are currently three. I'd recommend them for a classroom library for fluent readers ages 8 to 12.