Stolen Magic

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The eighteenth century was an era of new ventures in science, invention, and . . . magic? At least it was according to the tale told in Stolen Magic, which shows a magically gifted caste flourishing within the British aristocracy. Fortunately most of its members take their responsibility as Guardians seriously and use their powers only for good.

Not so Lord Drayton, who manages his estates with brutality and is rumored to keep young people enslaved in a near-zombie state, consuming their psychic energy to augment his own. It falls to Simon Malmain, Earl Falconer, to enforce Guardian law by stripping Drayton of his ill-gotten magic. Instead, Drayton's lightning counterattack jolts Simon's body into equine form. He does not even become an ordinary horse—the mirror shows him his image with a shimmery white coat and a silver horn. Panicked, Simon flees, only to be drawn back by Drayton staking out the one sure lure to a unicorn, a virgin.

As it happens, Meg, while a hapless thrall to Drayton, retains empathy with all animals, especially horses. Even in her diminished mental state she grasps the situation. Untying Simon, she helps him flee. Quite by accident they discover that her blood can bring him back to human form. Simon also can tie off most of the strands that bind her to Drayton. Alas, neither cure is permanent. Of necessity they will have to work together, to even stand a chance of halting Drayton's growing reign of terror.

M. J. Putney, the author of many best-selling Regency romances, uses the memes of both genres here to weave an intriguing tale that sparkles with surprises. Simon and Meg, with their unique plight, are an appealing couple who deserve their happy ending. The Guardians, thralls, and aspiring inventors who back them up will draw readers’ sympathies too. Not so the villain. Drayton is pretty much a stock evildoer, but wielding chilling enough power that he is believable. All in all, Stolen Magic is a treat for any reader who enjoys a spin through the realms of fantasy and history.