- Magus of Stonewylde, Kit Berry
Rating: * * * * *
Series: #1 Stonewylde (There are five books)
Publication Date: 2012 (Originally 2005)
Goodreads Synopsis: Sylvie is dying. A victim of crippling allergies, poisoned by the pollution and chemicals of modern life, Sylvie is trapped in a hospital bed. There’s an alternative community hidden away in a corner of Dorset. If their leader would let Sylvie visit, then perhaps the clean air and green lifestyle may restore her vitality.
I first read ‘Magus of Stonewylde’ last September. I saw Lucy Powrie’s glowing review of it on Queen of Contemporary, which made me really want to read it, and the next day, while on a road trip to look around universities, I found it by chance in a charity shop. Recognising the novel, I purchased it and took it with me to read on a biology field trip.
As soon as I started reading the novel, I was hooked and enchanted by it. A couple of chapters in I had the most amazing feeling, my favourite feeling in the whole world, that this book was going to be amazing and among the very best I had ever read. I wasn’t wrong there! I knew that I was in the hands of a phenomenal storyteller and that I could sit back, relax, and enjoy and savour all the wonderful scenes and chapters that lay stretched out before me. I kept the novel in my rucksack for the whole of the trip, seizing it and reading more whenever we had free time or a bus ride. I could not get enough.
‘Magus of Stonewylde’ tells the story of Sylvie, who is very ill and wasting away in the busy city she lives in. She is offered the opportunity to escape into a private community named Stonewylde, where technology is unknown. At first, Stonewylde seems to be a kind of paradise with healing properties, but soon Sylvie discovers that it is not as bright and wonderful as it at first seems. Neither is its leader, Magus.
Stonewylde is full of fascinating and vivid characters, my favourite of which is Yul, the determined and angry yet compassionate boy who is ordered to work in Sylvie’s garden. He is the kind of character that you root for from the very beginning. The other characters are also very strong and distinctive. Magus is fantastically described and he has a great presence. He is charismatic, darkly alluring and at times very unsettling, able to wrap Sylvie’s mother Miranda around his little finger. He is one of the most well-crafted and impactful characters I have seen in YA literature, and through him the novel becomes an exploration into the nature of power.
As always with books that become my favourites, not only are the main characters striking and three dimensional, but the minor characters are, too. In this way ‘Magus of Stonewylde’ reminded me of Harry Potter, for my favourite aspect of HP is the fact that there are so many memorable characters aside from the main ones. Like J. K. Rowling does, Kit Berry builds up a whole community and it is a joy to become immersed in it.
Overall, ‘Magus of Stonewylde’ is a unique, magical and unforgettable novel. The other books in the series are equally captivating. I have already read and reread them countless times and I am confident that I will read them many more times! The Stonewylde series is one of my top three all time favourites, along with the ‘Throne of Glass’ series and ‘The Infernal Devices’, and I am so grateful to Lucy Powrie for introducing me to ‘Magus of Stonewylde’ through her reviews.