Rival Magic by Deva Fagan

   Rival Magic by Deva Fagan, Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 9781534439054, 2020

Format: Hardcover, 282 pages

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre:  Fantasy

What did you like about the book?  Antonia is not the best at wielding magic; however, her ability to read and remember spells is over-the-top.  As her first year of apprenticeship under Master Betrys comes to a close, she feels pressure to show her mother that she can be a good wizard and deserving of the love she gave to her departed brother.  While practicing spells she discovers that a scullery maid, Moppe, has abilities in spell casting far surpassing her own.  Master Betrys decides to take on both girls as apprentices and tells them that she will eventually choose only one.  Her Master is entangled in a bitter government dispute and ends up arrested.  The girls have to put their differences aside, learn to work together in order to free their instructor and solve a mystery that is tearing the kingdom apart.  The story takes place in a fictional kingdom where magic is practiced on a daily basis by the few who can wield it.  Each girl has hurdles she must overcome and as the story progresses, readers get to know more about them.  The plot develops slowly allowing readers to get acclimated to this fictional environment and our protagonist.  Each girl is on a journey of self discovery and the overarching theme of friendship is clear and consistent.  Readers will be hard pressed to put this down.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  The plot is easy to follow and predict. Characters are well developed, yet simple.

To whom would you recommend this book? Readers in grades 3 and up who enjoy stories about friendship, magic, and wizards will enjoy this text.  

Who should buy this book? This would be a good purchase for elementary schools or public libraries that cannot get enough fictional novels about friendship and magic.  

Where would you shelve it? Fantasy

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  I feel that this title would reside near the top of a “to read” pile.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Elena Schuck, Nathaniel H. Wixon School Library, Dennis, Massachusetts

Date of review: December 31, 2020

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