The seventh son of the seventh son, aptly named Septimus Heap, is stolen the night he is born by a midwife who pronounces him dead. That same night, the baby’s father, Silas Heap, comes across a bundle in the snow containing a new born girl with violet eyes. The Heaps take this helpless newborn into their home, name her Jenna, and raise her as their own. But who is this mysterious baby girl, and what really happened to their beloved son Septimus?
The first book in this enthralling new series by Angie Sage leads readers on a fantastic journey filled with quirky characters and magykal charms, potions, and spells. Magyk is an original story of lost and rediscovered identities, rich with humor and heart.
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I re-read this book because I loved it as a kid. It wasn’t a favourite, but I did really enjoy it. Apparently, I’ve learned nothing from all my other re-reads. Don’t re-read kids books! They’re never as good as you remember!
Let’s start with what I did like – the plot. It was quite clever, about a Princess (Jenna) who didn’t know she was a Princess, and exactly how she came to be where she was. Sure, the royalty thing has been done to death, but with all the magic that was involved, it was really good. We had a whole cast of characters who all knew varying amounts of info about Jenna, and each of them helped piece together the story. There was also the fact that our title character, Septimus Heap, had apparently died at birth. To be honest, that was a really obvious plot twist, but the author did try their best to deter us. A lot of the elements were taken from various other stories, but the combination made it a really original plot.
What really let this book down for me was the writing. First off, Sage broke the most basic writers rule; show, not tell. Everything she did told us very obviously what was going on, and that ruined a lot for me. “Jenna was sad” doesn’t have the same effect as an explanation of the pain she was feeling, and this meant that I didn’t ever get to really know the characters. I wish I could have got more of an insight into what they were thinking and feeling, rather than just what they were doing. This style also ruined a lot of the dramatic-ness of the plot. Again, when you’re just looking at what’s happening, instead of being there, you aren’t scared. You assume it’ll all be fine, and so I found myself skimming over some of the battle scenes. When there’s no emotion, it’s just boring. Which is upsetting when the plot was so good!
It was also really obvious what was going to happen, but I might forgive the book since it’s meant to be for children. Like I said, title character was dead… Hmm, I wonder what’s going to happen there? He couldn’t possibly be alive could he? Princess dies, and a girl is mysteriously dropped off to our main family. Coincidence, right? Maybe I remembered from re-reading it. Maybe it was set up for a child to be surprised. Or maybe it was just really really obvious what was going to happen to all of our characters. These characters that we didn’t actually know anyway. Although, the characters did all have a lot of potential! I just wish they’d been explored more, like I said before.
Overall, I really should learn my lesson. Don’t re-read books you loved as a kid! Now, to go pick up book two of the series…