Author: Caroline Stevermer
Publication: Dial (June 10, 2010)
Description: Young Frederick is plucked from an orphanage to be a footboy for a wizard named Lord Schofield in Victorian England. Is his uncanny ability to tie perfect knots and render boots spotless a sign of his own magical talent, or the work of Billy Bly, the brownie who has been secretly watching over him since he was little? No matter, for the wizard has banished all magical creatures from his holdings. But Billy Bly isn’t going anywhere, and when he discovers a curse upon the manor house, it’s up to Frederick and Billy Bly to keep the lord’s new baby safe and rid the Schofield family of the curse forever.
My Thoughts: This was a great middle grade story of magic. It also gives us a look at some of the characters we met in Sorcery and Cecilia from the eyes of a young servant boy.
Frederick is taken from an orphanage to be a footman in the house of Lord Schofield but he doesn't come alone. He is accompanied by a brownie named Billy Bly. However, while Billy Bly is Frederick's only friend, he is not welcome in a wizard's house. Lord Schofield banishes him. Frederick does his work well and is promoted to the rank of assistant valet because of his way with tying cravats and blacking boots. When the family leaves London for the summer and to await the birth of the Schofield's first child Frederick is taken along.
When he arrives at the summer home he is reunited with Billy Bly who tells him that the curse on the Schofield's that should have been banished is still there and could cause problems with the birth of the child. Frederick warns Lord Schofield but is determined not to mention Billy Bly because he doesn't want him banished again.
The book was a very exciting adventure. I recommend it to middle grade students who like adventure and magic. I recommend it also to adults and YAs who have read Sorcery and Cecilia and its sequels for the chance to reconnect with favorite characters. It is not often that historical fiction is told from the viewpoint of one of the servants. This book was a refreshing change.
Bess poked him. "Don't be simple. They must do something to keep busy, mustn't they? It's not as if they have floors to scrub. Geese fly south in the winter, and rich folks go to the country in the summer. That's just the way things are."Challenges: In the Middle Reading Challenge, 2010 YA Reading Challenge, Paranormal Reading Challenge, RYOB Reading Challenge