Monday, May 07, 2007

A College of Magics; C. Stevermer

Originally published in 1994 by Tom Doherty & Assoc., ACoM was written by Caroline Stevermer. A link to Ms. Stevermer's website (a very basic one) is in the title above. Ms. Stevermer has also co-authored a series of young adult fantasy novels with Patricia Wrede. This is a young adult fantasy set in England and eastern Europe in the early 20th century.

The protagonist is Faris Nallaneen, Duchess of Galazon, eighteen years old. Faris has been sent away to a finishing school, which also has a reputation for turning out witches (unknown to Faris' evil uncle). Said evil uncle has his own reasons for sending Faris away, which he naturally doesn't reveal to her, but which likely involve political schemes and ransacking the peasants for more tax money. We watch and observe as Faris makes friends, grows and changes, makes enemies and is forced to leave school early for a fate unknown and unlooked for.

I must say I wonder why redheaded heroines are often described as either rangy/gawky/awkward or statuesque. Rarely any other description. How come? No petite curvy feminine redheads. Not that this quibble interfered with my enjoyment of this novel, I simply noticed it early on in this novel & the description made me think of many of the other novels I've read whose heroines are redheaded (or some other descriptive term that means essentially the same thing). Anyhow- back to ACoM.

Faris' best friend and her bodyguards have lots of adventures together on their journeys across Europe (pre WW I). Her new mentor is, to say the least, unusual. I found Faris to be prickly and dense at first, although these character traits are fully explained later. I thought her uncle's motives in the end (which were obvious to this romance reader, anyway!) should've been on her radar, but weren't.

A thoroughly enjoyable adventure/coming of age novel, I recommend it to all who enjoy watching young ladies come into their own.

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